This week Feliciano Lopez is playing at the Paris Masters on what is the 17th anniversary of when he made his tournament debut back in 2003.
His results in the French capital haven’t been spectacular with his best run being to the quarter-finals of the 2004 edition but still he remains committed as ever to the sport at the age of 39. He kicked-off his latest campaign on Monday with a roller-coaster 7-6(11), 6-1, win over Serbia’s Filip Krajinović who reached the final two years ago. During the opener Lopez had to save seven set points, with six of those occurring during the tiebreaker, before cruising through to victory. Even more impressive was the fact he won 100% of his first service points (34/34) as he blasted 21 aces past his opponent.
“It was a very crazy match,” the world No.64 said afterwards.
“I had a very tough start, losing my serve with three double faults. I managed somehow to come back and go into the breaker.’
“I think I was 5-0 down, and a lot of things just happened sometimes. And I was a little bit lucky, I have to say, during the tiebreak’
“Then I think it was very tough for him to handle the situation after losing that set that he was only one point away a few times to win it.”
You could be forgiven for thinking this year might be the last season the Spaniard is playing. He is the second oldest player after Roger Federer in the top 100 and made his ATP Tour debut at the 1998 Barcelona Open. Three years before Jannik Sinner, who is the youngest player in the top 100, was born. On top of that he officially became tournament director of the Madrid Open in 2019 and his wife will be giving birth in the coming months.
Nevertheless, Lopez has already signed up for another packed 2021 season should all go to plan given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Illustrating that age is nothing but a number in the world of sport.
“As soon as I’m physically ready, I think I can still compete. I feel good, and especially on these courts (in Paris), indoor, grass, hard courts where I feel more comfortable, I think I’m still able to perform and to enjoy and to play against the best players in the world,” he said.
Being both a player and tournament director Lopez is in the unique position of being able to view things from both directions concerning various topics. For example, tournament prize money during the later stages have been reduced due to the pandemic. This week’s Paris winner will take home €225,210 which is a fall of more than €75,000.
“I think it will be the same for the beginning of 2021 because I don’t see the virus going away. It’s gonna stay here for a while until they find a vaccine,” Lopez commented on the prize money reductions.
“For now I don’t see any hope in prize money. I think it will stay the same for a while. I think the players will have to accept that this is the situation that we have to live with and appreciate also the huge effort that the tournaments are doing in order to deliver the events. I know how difficult it is right now to find sponsors and to have help from governments, private companies and stuff.”
Lopez has been ranked as high as 12th in the world and has won seven ATP titles. In Paris he will play top seed Rafael Nadal in the next round.
Doubles Player Dream French Open Debut Ended By Instagram Message
Portugal’s Francisco Cabral said he found out he will not be playing in Paris through social media.
Playing in the main draw of a Grand Slam is the pinnacle of many players’ careers but one player missed out on that opportunity due to an unfortunate situation.
Portugal’s Francisco Cabral was set to play in the men’s doubles tournament for the first time at this week’s French Open. The world No.72 is currently at a career-high after winning his maiden Tour title in Estoril last month with compatriot Nuno Borges. In Paris, he entered into the draw alongside Denmark’s Holger Rune.
However, shortly before he was set to make his Grand Slam debut Rune pulled out at the last minute. Leaving Cabral unable to look for another partner in such a short time. Rune’s withdrawal from the doubles was based on medical advice after he hurt his ankle during his second round clash against Henri Laaksonen. The Dane tripped over the court cover at the back of the court but fortunately wasn’t seriously injured and managed to continue playing.
“Right now I feel a huge sadness because it’s a dream to play in a Grand Slam tournament. I’ve been here since Saturday training, waiting, watching games, experiencing a new world because it was my first Grand Slam and it’s another dimension and I was really, really looking forward to being able to play,” Cabral told Raquetc. “And having waited until 15 minutes before game time to know that I wasn’t going to play after all, it cost me a lot, but I did everything I could.”
Caral went on to criticize the behavior of Rune who informed him that he would not be playing in the doubles event via a message sent on Instagram. It is unclear why the two never spoke face-to-face.
“He only told me that he had sprained his foot, that he was at the doctor’s, and that he had told him not to play the doubles. I’m sad about his attitude because he didn’t even say this to my face, he just sent me a message on Instagram. I don’t think it went well, but as I said, I couldn’t have done anything differently, so I’ll just wait for the next opportunity.” He said.
25-year-old Cabral is targeting Wimbledon as the event where he will play his first main draw match.
Meanwhile, Rune will continue his singles campaign at Roland Garros on Saturday when he plays Hugo Gaston in the third round. The former world No.1 junior has shot up the rankings this season to a high of 40th.
Cabral and Rune has been replaced in the draw by Sander Arends and Szymon Walków.
French Open Crowd Crossed The Line, Says Frustrated Alex de Minaur
The Australian explains why he wasn’t entirely happy with the atmosphere in the French capital.
Alex de Minaur didn’t hide his irritation with fans at Roland Garros following his shock exit from the tournament on Tuesday.
The 19th seed fell to home player Hugo Gaston in a five-set epic that lasted more than four hours. De Minaur had a 3-0 lead in the decisive set but ended up losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 0-6, 7-6(10-4) to the world No.74. He has now lost in the first round of the French Open in four out of six appearances.
During the match De Minaur had to contend with a boisterous crowd who were cheering on Gaston. He faced some booing and jeering from those in the stands which the world No.20 was not happy about.
“I think there is a difference between a great atmosphere and supporting your fellow countrymen, which is completely fine and it’s great. I’m sure for him was an amazing atmosphere, he enjoyed every second of it.” De Minaur said afterwards.
“But there is a line that, when I’m getting told things by people in the crowd, making eye contact with me after I hit a double fault, I think there is a certain line that needs to be kind of looked at.”
“Good on him (Gaston) for playing a great match in front of his home crowd and being able to feed off that, and you know, having a moment that I’m sure he won’t forget.”
De Minaur refused to go into what exactly was being said to him from certain members of the crowd but insisted that he was not being intimidated by what was occurring on the court. Towards the end of the match a series of unforced errors, including double faults, costed him dearly.
“I’m pretty sure I dealt with it pretty well, all things considering,” he said. “I was in the moment. I was in the heat of the moment battling out there. It felt like kind of an away Davis Cup match, and I thrive on that. It was a lot sometimes and sometimes you do your best to focus on playing a tennis match. There are outside factors that you do your best to control.“
Heading into Paris, De Minaur had shown encouraging results on the clay with semi-final runs to tournaments in Barcelona and Lyon. He also reached the third round in Rome and took a set off Andrey Rublev when they clashed in Monte Carlo.
Given those recent results on the Tour, it is clear that the latest defeat is one that will sit with him for a while.
“Ideally, I will sleep tonight and I will forget all about it, but I have a feeling that won’t be the case,” de Minaur admits.
“It’s disappointing, as everything is, it is what it is. It’s a sport that we are playing. You have your good days, your bad days. You win absolute battles; you lose absolute battles.”
As for Garon, he will face Argentine qualifier Pedro Cachin in the second round. This year’s draw is a golden opportunity for the Frenchman with him guaranteed to not play a seeded player until at least the last 16 if he makes it that far.
Novak Djokovic Opens Up About Wimbledon Points Removal
The world No.1 states that he will always support the views of his peers.
By Kingsley Elliot Kaye
In his press conference following his win over Yoshihito Nishioka at the French Open, Novak Djokovic expressed his views about the ATP decision to remove points from Wimbledon.
Negatively affected by such a decision – he will drop 2000 points – the world No.1 praised the ATP’s stance and called for players’ unity.
“I think collectively I’m glad that players got together with ATP, the governing body of the men’s tennis, and showed to the Grand Slam that when there is a mistake happening, and there was from the Wimbledon side, then we have to show that there are going to be some consequences. So I support the players, unification always. I have always done that. I will always do that.” He said.
Djokovic criticized the lack of communication between the parties involved, in particular with regard to a document of recommendation by the English Government which contained diverse options. Had it been discussed by the All England Club with ATP and players, a compromise may have been reached.
“I think it was a wrong decision. I don’t support that at all. But, you know, during these times, it’s a super sensitive subject, and anything that you decide, it’s unfortunately going to create a lot of conflict, a lot of separation instead of unification.” He continued.
Djokovic also mentioned other suggestions coming from WTA and ATP, that possibly men’s and women’s players from Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia could play together at some exhibition event during the slam or something like this and prize money could go to the victims in Ukraine. There were different ideas, but there was never really a strong communication coming from Wimbledon.
He stressed that removing the points from Wimbledon, therefore not allowing players to earn or to defend points, is a decision that affects everyone, a lose-lose situation for everyone, as he called it.
Nonetheless, the charm and prestige of Wimbledon shall rest unaltered and its meaningfulness extends far beyond: “A Grand Slam is still a Grand Slam. Wimbledon for me was always my dream tournament when I was a child. You know, I don’t look at it through the lens of points or prize money. For me, it’s something else.”
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