Feliciano Lopez break Slam streak: ‘Just to challenge these animals’

FROM WIMBLEDON – Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, who broke Roger Federer’s consecutive major record, stepped out at Wimbledon on Tuesday for his 66th Grand Slam in a row.

The 36-year-old Lopez says that over the years, he rarely became injured. His body is very fluid, and he keeps away from long rallies. 

Well, that doesn’t work well on clay, and sometimes on the hard courts. But, on the slick grass, yes, shorter is better.

“My technique … I play quite easy, so I don’t make a huge effort in every single shot that I play,” Lopez said. “I haven’t suffered any big injuries in my career. This is the most important thing. And also mentally I have the strength enough to be playing so many years.”

Lopez never stops. Once in a while, he can rest at home in Spain. But, not for very long. He plays and he plays, and he travels from east to west. A number of players get hurt and then they have to stop. Look at Andy Murray, who pulled out just before Wimbledon. During the last year, he could not play tournaments for 11 months. And now he is on the sidelines again. The same goes with Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka; they both were hurt for a long time. 
But not the creative Lopez, who has had a respectable career. He sees what has happened to the top guys. 

“Probably the two-handed backhand guys have more injuries in the last years. This is something that I realize,” Lopez said. “I don’t know why. But it is true that the two-handed backhand guys have been struggling with injuries lately more than one-handed backhand guys. Also, the stress that these guys they have every single day they compete, because they have to win every day. Also, the mental part is so important that it might be affected, on your body when you step in the court.

“These guys can suffer. And then they can have a big injury like Andy. He had last year, not this year, the hip surgery. Novak in the arm. Roger in the past, also in the back. Rafa [Nadal], his whole career he’s been suffering injuries. They have a lot of stress.”

Look at Lopez on court – running, bending down, sliding, swinging – he has stayed in there, playing the Slams 66 times in a row. That has been 16 years and a third. That is huge.
“Of course it means a lot to me. It’s not about reaching this number of the most consecutive Grand Slams played. It’s about playing at the top level,” Lopez said. “For me, to challenge the best players in the world. This is what I thought at this stage of my career was the most important thing, to stay healthy and to be able to compete against these monsters. But, after the 30s it was so important for me to stay fresh and healthy, just to challenge these animals”

Sharapova keeps stalling
Maria Sharapova lost again, going down to Vitalia Diatchenko 6-7(3) 7-6(3) 6-4. Once again, the five-time major champion couldn’t pull it of. She was so close to winning, but as she says, she needs to be more patient. When the errors mount, then she over-thinks. She says she is not panicking, but she gets shaky.

“I think it’s always a different type of pressure. When you’re young, it’s a pressure of the unknown. You don’t know,” Sharapova said. “It’s the pressure of the inexperience, how you’re going to deliver under circumstances that are presented at you that are very new and challenging. When you’re older, you have those experiences, which is sometimes very helpful. You have been in that position, and sometimes you pulled through and did extremely well, and others you haven’t.nAll those are still memories in your mind, but I think that’s what makes tennis great, you have to create new ones.”

She sure does. No. 22 Sharapova said that gradually she is getting better, which is reflected in her hike up the rankings. But, she has a tremendous work to do. She will never gives up, and she will always battle, but she has to improve. Very soon.

“I think the fight, the motivation. Obviously the health,” she said. “That’s crucial, to be able to keep putting the work in. In a matter of a couple points, maybe the situation could have been different. I would have been here saying, I didn’t play my best tennis. I’m giving myself another chance.

Sharapova has lost a number of matches this year. In some she has played OK; in others, she has been off. She was crushed by Angie Kerber at the Australian Open. She upended Karolina Pliskova at Roland Garros, but then Garbine Muguruza destroyed her. Overall over the past six months, Sharapova has had some fine wins, like beating Jelena Ostapenko and Daria Gavrilova. However, beating the top players has been a gigantic challenge.

“You always want to deliver in those moments. But I’ve never really shied away from that. I hope that I don’t continue to,” Sharapova continued. “I hope that I keep putting myself on the line for those moments. … You could work through all those formulas. But, at the end of the day, if I wake up and I want to go out and I want to put the work in, I think that speaks for itself. Doesn’t need to speak to anyone else. Just needs to speak for me, which is the most important thing.”

Four picks for Wednesday

Agnieszka Radwanska vs Lucie Safarova
I could be wrong, but Aga will continue to get better, given that she barely lost on Monday. This will be three sets, but in the end, Radwanska will confuse her.
Andreas Seppi vs Kevin Anderson
The huge-serveing Anderson can’t bent down, and he can slip of the grass. So, the Italian Seppi will edge him in five sets. 

Marin Cilic vs Guido Pella
The Croatian is getting better every week. He has a chanced to win the trophy and he will easily beat Pella in three sets.

John Isner vs Ruben Bemelmans
The American finally said that he likes grass. It has taken him a long time, but he is feeling enthusiastic. Bemelmans has improved a lot, but it is almost impossible to return against Isner, who will win in four sets.

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