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Tennis - Wimbledon most open for a decade, says contender Lopez
June 26, 2017 / 2:29 AM / 6 months ago

Tennis - Wimbledon most open for a decade, says contender Lopez

LONDON (Reuters) - This year’s men’s singles at Wimbledon promises to be the most open for a decade, according to Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who is quietly fancying his own chances of a deep run.

Tennis - Aegon Championships - Queen’s Club, London, Britain - June 25, 2017 Spain's Feliciano Lopez celebrates with the trophy after winning the final against Croatia's Marin Cilic Action Images via Reuters/Tony O'Brien

While Roger Federer was winning a ninth Halle title on Sunday afternoon to mark himself out as favourite, fellow 35-year-old Lopez rounded off a magical week on the Queen’s Club lawns by winning the Aegon Championships.

Left-hander Lopez said he is playing the best tennis of his career and few would argue with that after victories against world number three Stan Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych, Grigor Dimitrov and finally Marin Cilic in the space of a week.

“Considering the results of the best players in the world, it is true that it is probably the most open Wimbledon in the last 10 years, I will say,” Lopez said, referencing the struggles of Wimbledon champion and world number one Andy Murray and three-times winner Novak Djokovic.

”Roger is playing great. He’s not playing much, but when he’s playing, he’s winning. Novak and Andy, it’s true that they are not playing their best, I will say, and Rafa (Nadal), he hasn’t played on grass for a long time.

“So it’s probably a little bit more open.”

Lopez, for all his elegant grasscourt skills and one of the most devilish serves in tennis, has only made three Wimbledon quarter-finals in 15 visits.

After a thrilling Queen’s final against Cilic in which he saved a match point before clinching a final set tiebreak 10-8, Lopez clearly believes his best Wimbledon run might still be ahead of him, possibly in the next few weeks.

“Tennis is a unique sport where anything can happen. From one day to the other, it can be so different,” Lopez, who will be ranked 25 on Monday and will be seeded at Wimbledon, said.

”It is true that I‘m going into Wimbledon with a lot of confidence. Probably this is the Wimbledon that I feel more confident going into it.

”But next week, you know, the draw has to be done. And then I hope I can still play in the same way. Tennis is about sensations, feelings.

“Winning here, it’s the best preparation I can have. But on the other way, I think you can have a very tough draw from the very beginning.”

Lopez is the first Spaniard to win Queen’s since Nadal in 2008 after which the Mallorcan won Wimbledon.

The 31-year-old Nadal will arrive this time having just claimed a 10th French Open but with no competitive grasscourt play, having pulled out of the Queen’s Club event.

Lopez warned against writing off his compatriot, though.

“He didn’t play one match on grass for such a long time. But with Rafa you never know, because he’s capable of everything,” Lopez said. “But Roger, for sure, is the number one contender.”

Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ian Ransom

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