Lopez The Epitome Of Longevity
Lopez is now 36 years old and shows no signs of slowing down. On Tuesday, the left-handed Lopez will face Dusan Lajovic, a 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3 winner over Pedro Martinez in the first round of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.
When he was just 16 years old, Lopez was granted a wild card by the Real Tennis Club Barcelona, the facility that runs the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, after they saw serious potential in the young Spaniard. Lopez made the most of the opportunity: He battled his way into the main draw of the tournament with straight-set wins over Germany's Jan Weinzierl 6-3, 6-3, and countryman Marcos Aurelio Gorriz Bonhora, 6-2, 6-4.
Just like that, Lopez made good on expectations, and the youngster from the city of Toledo was reveling in his own success.
"It was amazing," Lopez told ATPWorldTour.com. "I remember spending all of those years trying to make it with the (Real Tennis Club Barcelona); breaking through was the last thing I expected."
The end to the tournament might have been anti-climactic, but still memorable: Lopez lost in the first round to Jiri Novak, 0-6, 2-6 in 46 minutes.The up-and-coming Spaniard still relished his first taste of success at the ATP World Tour level. Prior to his breakthrough in Barcelona, Lopez's best performance had been at an ATP World Tour Challenger event in Majorca in September 1997, when he won his first match at that level and reached the second round (l. to Vemic).
"I didn't enjoy that; Novak hadn't 'broken out' at that point but he'd eventually be a top-10 player and a great player," Lopez said. "On that day, I was nervous; I would have preferred to play with a lot less people watching."
Quarter-final showings in 2011 (l. to Ivan Dodig) and 2012 (l. to David Ferrer) have been Lopez's best results so far in Barcelona. Going into Tuesday's second-round clash, Lopez holds a 3-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head series edge over Lajovic. The Serbian emerged victorious in their most recent encounter at Indian Wells in 2017, but the Spaniard was victorious in their only clay-court meeting.
Win or lose, what matters most to Lopez isn't who walks off the court the winner. It means more to Lopez that he can continue playing at the highest level for years to come.
"My wish is continue playing as well as I have been playing for a long time," Lopez said.