For almost two decades, Feliciano Lopez and Rafael Nadal have been among the Spanish most prominent players. The Davis Cup teammates have shared many exciting moments on the court, competing alongside each other for a couple of years at the home Masters 1000 event in Madrid.
By the draw's will, Nadal chased his 1000th ATP victory against Lopez a couple of weeks ago at the Paris Masters, prevailing 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 in two and a half hours to secure a massive milestone. It was Nadal's tenth victory over the older compatriot, prevailing in set number two and scoring an early break in the decider that pushed him over the top.
Rafa saved three out of four break points, delivering one break from seven opportunities and forging a small advantage in the shortest and most extended exchanges to cross the finish line first. Nadal kicked off the match with a double fault, suffering a break in the first game for an early setback.
Lopez confirmed the advantage with a service winner in game two, saving a break chance in the fourth game with an ace down the T line to open a 3-1 gap. Rafa netted a forehand in game six to hand another game to his rival, holding at 15 a few minutes later to remain within one break deficit.
Feliciano moved 5-3 in front with an ace and held at love following a service winner in game ten to wrap up the opener 6-4 in 40 minutes. With no room for errors, Nadal lost four points behind the initial shot in set number two and created five break chances.
Nadal held at 15 with an unreturned serve in the first game, earning two break opportunities at 2-1. Remaining calm, Feliciano saved those to stay on the scoreboard's positive side, playing against three more break points at 2-3.
Nadal failed to convert those, serving well by the end of the set but not creating more opportunities ahead of the tie break.
At the Paris Masters, Feliciano Lopez played on high level against Rafael Nadal.
At 3-3, Rafa landed a volley winner to grab a mini-break, firing two winners to earn three set points.
Lopez saved the opening two before Nadal seized the third to gather a boost ahead of the final set. The younger Spaniard clinched a break at love in the first game and saved two break chances in the next one to move 2-0 in front.
Both players served well in the remaining games, and Rafa sealed the deal with a hold in game ten, moving into the third round and securing the 1000th ATP win. Speaking about the match, Lopez said he enjoyed the battle, feeling good about pushing world no.
2 to the limits at 39. "Playing against Rafa is always special for me, especially at my age. At 39, I value those big matches more, and they push me to play and practice every day. I was able to push Rafa to the limits, feeling competitive against world no.
2 and one of the best players in history. That means a lot to me, making me feel like going for another year before I retire. There was also the emotional side of being involved in his 1000th ATP victory, and it wasn't easy to compete in front of an empty stadium, which is extra tough against Rafa.
Under the circumstances we had, I enjoyed it the most. I played very well, although, unfortunately, I couldn't win. Still, it was a match that gives me the strength to continue," Feliciano Lopez said.