Feliciano Lopez Believes Playing Rafael Nadal in an Empty Stadium is ‘Harder’ Than Against Any Other Player

November 27, 2020 10:02 pm

Rafael Nadal has amassed plenty of records in his glorious tennis career. The Spaniard recently brought up his 1000th professional victory at the Rolex Paris Masters. Fortunately, it came against his close friend and compatriot Feliciano Lopez. Emotions took center stage after the victory! 

Nadal reached a personal milestone in Paris even though he didn’t go all the way to become champion. The 34-year-old fought a  close encounter at the end when he faced Lopez in the second round.

Lopez opened up to MARCA about his emotions and excitement after the loss which contributed to Nadal’s 1000th win. 

“Yes, because playing against Rafa for me is always special and even more so now that I’m 39 years old and I value this type of game more. I keep pushing myself every day to play those games,” Lopez said (Quotes translated from Spanish via Google). 

39-year-old Lopez held tight in the first set, but Nadal bounced back to win the match 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, to become the fourth player in the Open Era to achieve the 1000 win milestone. 

“I was able to push him to the limit and I felt competitive against the number two in the world and possibly the best ever,” added Lopez. “That means a lot to me because it gives me the illusion of continuing another year playing tennis.”

Feliciano Lopez says Rafael Nadal is the toughest when it comes to playing in an empty stadium

The problems caused by the pandemic are forcing us to follow a new normal. Strict protocols will continue to play a major part in upcoming tournaments until a potent vaccine is discovered. 

Several tennis events took place in 2020 while a few of them pulled back citing health concerns. The lack of fans is disappointing, but Rafael Nadal is a master at gaining momentum even in an empty stadium. 

“And then there’s the emotional side of being in your 1,000th win. It was a shame to play in an empty stadium,” mentioned Lopez. He further explained why playing in a fan-less arena is far more difficult for the athletes. 

Tennis – ATP Finals. The O2, London, Britain – November 21, 2020 Spain’s Rafael Nadal reacts during his semi-final match against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev REUTERS/Toby Melville

“Going out to play against Nadal in an empty stadium is harder than against any other player because these matches are lived with great emotion, the stands are full, the atmosphere is brutal,” he said. 

The match however went ahead and Lopez stated that he “enjoyed it the most.” Of course, he competed to win, but the Spaniard is quite emotional that Rafael Nadal has now joined an elite list of players in the 1000 win category. 

Tags: Rafael Nadal
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