Spain's Marc Lopez will be the new coach for fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez this year and the two will also play doubles together this season. The pair have known each other since their junior days and in a conversation to the ATP Tour website, they recall some of their experiences over the time they have known each other.
Feliciano Lopez says, "We would see each other in international team competitions, but little else. At 17 we got together. You were at the Federación Catalana and I had just left the CAR [High-Performance Centre].
I started to train with Francis Roig. And the idea came up for you to form part of our team. Francis was our coach, and we were his two students. At that point, we would see each other every day. They are great memories. Later, Francis founded his current academy with two other coaches and we kept training together, but in a bigger group.
I was with Francis and you were with other coaches. There were a lot of good people, Albert Costa, Galo Blanco, Fernando Vicente... There’s no single reason why a friendship forms. In our case, it was tennis, which brought us together as children.
We got on well, although we didn’t see each other often. Then, when we started to train together with Francis, we would get together more. Although we stopped travelling together, we were always in contact. That year and a half was pretty important for forging the friendship we have now.
A long time later, we started to play doubles and it went well for us. When we were with Pepo Clavet, travelling together for four or five years, you always said to him that when it came to the final year of my career you would try to be my coach.
When I started as a professional, before coinciding with you, Francis was coaching Alberto Berasategui. And I joined that group. Then Berasategui retired, and you joined us. Francis was coaching Alberto, and they played doubles together.
And Francis and I, at the start, also played together. Among all your jokes with Pepo, I thought that maybe it would be a good idea. And last year the Pepo thing came up naturally, it wasn’t a case of either of us being tired of travelling with the other.
Marc Lopez, who peaked at No. 3 in the doubles rankings and won 14 ATP doubles titles during his career, says, "In the years that we have played doubles together, I have always sat with Pepo watching your matches, and we had the same opinions.
It’s not just that I am familiar with the way you play, I’ve been watching all your matches for three years. For me, it’s a completely new experience, but I am really excited about this phase. I think I can bring you happiness, because of our personal relationship, but I will always tell you what I think so that you can enjoy what is left for you in tennis, be it one, two or three years.
Few technical things, because you’ve been with very good coaches and you know your faults and your options for improving. I want to make your daily life fun so that you can continue with the same ambition you’ve always had.
You’re 38, but you also have the game to stay at the top. I don’t think I’ll get you to stop getting upset with yourself on court because you do it naturally. As long as it doesn’t affect you on the following points...
You have to analyse that it doesn’t help you in any way and that it doesn’t help you with other people or with yourself. I understand the frustration of playing badly because I’m a tennis player and I feel it too.
Always having a positive attitude is very difficult, but my philosophy is that you should be as positive as possible for the time that you’re on the court. You can improve that. We’ll see if we can change it. Speaking about his earlier coaches, Feliciano Lopez says, "I’ve always been very lucky because all of my coaches have been great friends of mine, but I’ve had huge respect for their position as coach.
I have never left a relationship with a coach through fear of the friendship going down the drain because of problems we might have in our working relationship, on the contrary. Francis and Pepo are the people who have had the most influence on my career, by far.
In those two very different phases of my sporting life, but Francis taught me a lot technically at the time of transitioning from a junior to a professional, which is so important. And Pepo, for the seven years we were together, the best of my career, he taught me a lot technically because he reads games very well.
I love the way he understands tennis, and he’s convinced me to play more aggressively in recent years. I’m certain it’s not a problem that you and I are friends. That’s why I’ve done well and I’ve been able to extend my career.
I’ve had people by my side that have made my life easier. It’s important to be surrounded by good people. I can’t comprehend working relationships in tennis without friendship. I need someone by my side who has a number of characteristics that allow me to be happy.
I’ve been very lucky because all of my coaches have practically been my best friends in the world of tennis: Francis, Albert Costa, Alberto Berasategui, Pepo, now you... You are five very important people in my life, not just in terms of sport."