Feliciano Lopez assesses Andy Murray's comeback, his own goals and 'golden era of tennis'
Murray and Lopez to reunite at the Rogers Cup doubles in Montreal this week
By Mathieu Wood
Last Updated: 03/08/19 7:40am
As Andy Murray makes significant strides in his goal of a return to singles, we asked Feliciano Lopez, who he partnered to victory at Queen's, for an assessment of just what the former world No 1 can still achieve.
A lot has changed, and for the better, for Murray on the court. A year ago, to the day, he broke down in tears after beating Marius Copil in a third-round singles match at the Citi Open, sealing victory at 03:02 local time.
The emotion was down to the constant anguish his body was going through as his troublesome hip continued to cause him pain.
Happily, he is now pain-free since he underwent a hip resurfacing operation, which he has since described as "life changing", after the Australian Open.
The three-time Grand Slam singles champion revealed earlier this week he is closing in on a return to singles, sooner than he expected, and a best-case scenario could see him feature in Cincinnati.
Lopez, who remarkably won both the singles and doubles titles at Queen's Club, is confident the 32-year-old can still have a big part to play on the biggest of stages in the singles game when he does make his return.
"Andy has proved that if he feels good physically, he has no limits," Lopez told Sky Sports.
"He is such a fighter and so professional that as long as he can play tennis consistently and over a period of time, he will be a contender for all titles, including the Grand Slams.
"It is great news for tennis to have him back and I wish him all the very best success in his comeback."
Murray produced his best performance, alongside his brother Jamie, since his return, which has so far been restricted to doubles, against Wimbledon finalists Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in a first-round victory in Washington.
The two-time Olympic champion will team up with Lopez once again at the Rogers Cup in Montreal and the Spaniard, who is also enjoying a resurgence in form late in his career, is excited at the prospect of reuniting their winning partnership.
"Playing with Andy [at Queen's] was a fantastic experience," the 37-year-old said.
"I was humbled when he asked me to play doubles with him and so happy for him that he would be back on a tennis court.
"He is a good friend of mine and I have so much respect for him for what he has done in tennis and for our sport. So, to be able to play and win Queen's with him was a dream.
The most important thing is to see him healthy again and enjoying competitive tennis.
Feliciano Lopez on Andy Murray
"We had a lot of fun together and I think our chemistry and good energy made us play well.
"We are hoping for another great run in Montreal but to be honest for me the most important thing is to see him healthy again and enjoying competitive tennis.
"After Canada we will talk to see other potential tournaments going forward but it will really depend on how he feels physically. I will always be happy and ready to play with Andy."
The triumph at Queen's has not only acted as a stimulus for Murray but provided a huge source of belief for Lopez, who is just happy to be back enjoying his tennis after facing the prospect of a retirement of his own.
"Winning Queen's was incredible of course not only because it is one of the most prestigious tournaments but also because it came a bit unexpectedly," Lopez said.
Feliciano Lopez Factfile
|Singles world ranking||64|
|Career singles titles||7|
"That win has given me even more motivation to keep going and as a result of improving my ranking has also given me the chance to schedule the tournaments that I really want to play.
"I am hoping for a strong end of the season but for me the key is to keep enjoying my tennis."
Lopez, who won the French Open doubles title in 2016, is ranked world No 64 - having been outside the top 100 prior to Queen's - and will build up to the US Open by also playing at Cincinnati and Winston-Salem.
"At this stage of my career I am not setting specific goals in terms of results but rather staying healthy and competitive so I can perform at my best," he added.
The former world No 12, who has played in 70 consecutive Grand Slams, is one of the most experienced players on tour and says he has been part of a "golden era of tennis".
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic remain the dominant forces on the Grand Slam stage and Lopez says their standards will struggle to ever be matched.
"There are different factors preventing the next generation to really make an impact on the rankings," he said.
We are enjoying the golden era of tennis, that's for sure.
"The truth is that there is still a very good generation of old players that are performing very well.
"It is not easy to match that quality but I am sure that once one or two of the next generation really push through the others will be inspired and come along.
"It is simply a matter of time but at the same time, no one should expect the same level and number of great players that we have currently. We are enjoying the golden era of tennis, that's for sure."
Not only is Lopez an active player on the ATP Tour but he is a tournament director of the Madrid Open - a key clay-court event - and the Spaniard, who replaced Monolo Santana, is enjoying the responsibility.
"I had played all the tournament editions since the first year and over the years we built a very special relationship," Lopez said.
"My first year as tournament director has been a great experience supervising all areas of the tournament, but I am blessed to have a tremendous team around me with a great wealth of experience that is helping me a lot."
Lopez and Murray are unquestionably two players who are just delighted to still be playing tennis and who is to say whether they can't go on to win another doubles title together in Montreal.