Feliciano Lopez: ‘This Is What It Is Right Now’

WASHINGTON, November 3, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Feliciano Lopez has a perspective that few in tennis enjoy. As both an active player and tournament director of the Mutua Madrid Masters, the 39-year-old Spaniard walks a fine line, but he is no less cognizant of the challenges that both players and tournaments have been facing during the global coronavirus pandemic.

“I was able to see tennis on the other side and it’s really interesting for me as a person,” Lopez said Monday during a virtual press conference after his first-round win against Filip Krajinovic. He will play World No. 2 and top seed Rafael Nadal in the second round. “I think it’s a big challenge for me to be there, to learn a lot of things. 

“So far, I’m so happy with my job as a tournament director. I think it’s a great opportunity that was given to me a few years ago. … But it is really challenging, of course, because it’s very difficult sometimes to focus on things that you never heard of sometimes, and you have to be ready for so many things that – it’s a process, you know.” 

On Monday, Lopez was asked by a reporter about the decline in prize money being awarded by tournaments and whether it was temporary or the new normal. He had plenty to say about the subject.

“I want to be clear. I think this is what we – this is the best we can have right now,” Lopez said. “We have to be aware of the situation that the world is living and how everyone is facing these challenging times around the world.

“Yeah, the prize money had a significant reduction, of course. But it will be the same I think for beginning of 2021, because I don’t see the virus … going away. It’s going to stay there for a while, I think, until they find a vaccine.

“So, for now. I don’t see any hope on prize money. I think it will stay the same for a while. Yeah, I think the players will have to accept that this is the situation that we have to live with and to appreciate also the huge effort that the tournaments are doing in order to deliver the events. I know how difficult it is right now to find sponsors and to have this help from governments, private companies and stuff.

“So, yeah, it’s going to be like this for a while, and hopefully by about, I don’t know, middle of next year the pandemic is going to get better and everything is going to get back to normal.

“For now, I think we have to stay strong together, stay united and hope for the best, because this is not only tennis. It’s a problem that is affecting every single person in the world. People are dying, you know. And especially in Spain where we are suffering, you know.

“I think it’s fair to say that we are very fortunate and we are very lucky. First of all, we are able to play, and of course we have a significant reduction in the prize money. But, yeah, I think it will stay the same. It has to stay the same, because the tournaments, they cannot do better, you know. This is what it is right now.”

Moutet accepts the pressure of his wild card

In the midst of a season that started promising in Doha but has been uneven since, 75th-ranked French wild card Corentin Moutet lately has been drawing more attention for his original rap music than his tennis. On Monday, the 21-year-old Moutet won his opening match against Italian lucky loser Salvatore Caruso, 3-6, 7-5 (2), 6-3, to advance against No. 43 Marin Cilic. Afterward, during a virtual press gathering with English and French reporters, Corentin said: “I’m really happy. I’m lucky to be here in the main draw because I got the wild card, so they trust me to play this tournament. It’s nice form them, so thank you to them.”

Because of his low ranking, without the wild card Moutet would have had to win two matches in the qualifying draw over the weekend just to make the main draw.

“You know, they give you a chance to play directly the main draw,” said Moutet, who is playing in only his second Masters 1000 tournament. “It’s always nice, because it’s a big tournament.”

As for his rap music that he debuted via is Instagram platform last spring, Moutet told the ATP Tour website last April “I take music as therapy because it’s nice to write and get rid of everything you’re feeling inside, both good and bad. I like the connection with people on social media through music as well. Even if you don’t speak the same language, you can speak to a lot of people through music. 

“The days can be long on site at tournaments, so I wanted to do something else. I’m usually writing, singing or rapping most of the time now. I try to write every day about my feelings or anything else that comes to mind.”

When Moutet was asked by a reporter about the public’s response to his rap music, he said: “It was amazing. That’s why I stopped the social media, because I was receiving [milions of] messages every day. So, you know, I couldn’t handle it. So, yeah, it was nice.”

At 32, Cilic is wiser and also a first-time father

Marin Cilic is six years removed from winning the 2014 US Open, one of his 18 career singles titles and the only major in his C.V. Earlier this year, Cilic became a first-time father when his wife Kristina Milkovic gave birth to a son, Baldo, in January.

Following his Monday evening victory over No. 14 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, Tennis TourTalk spoke to Cilic during the 43rd-ranked Croatian’s virtual press conference and asked him if he felt he was a wiser player now, at age 32, than say five or 10 years ago.

“I would say so. You know, sometimes it’s a blade with two sides. Depends how you look at it,” said Cilic, whose last title came at Queen’s Club in 2018. “For example, when you know more, then you are questioning yourself more. Is it right, is it not right? Should I go this or that? When you are young, you just go for it. You have so much time ahead of yourself. You are not questioning yourself. And then you just have to be smart to know how to deal with those things and to be able to find what’s best for you.

“But, yeah, definitely I’m feeling wiser than I was when I started on the tour. And, you know, we would all say if I would have had this kind of mindset when I started the career, you know, who knows what would have been.

“But it’s the way it is. And you get experience, you get matches, you get through the years you are learning a little bit more about yourself and you’re always trying to improve.”

When Cilic was asked if becoming a father earlier this year had changed his outlook as a professional tennis player, he beamed a big smile. “Well, it has given me a new chapter in life,” he said. “You know, [it] just brought incredible amount of happiness in my personal life. And also, I’m feeling very happy on the court, off the court. We all know how important this surrounding around the tennis court is. 

“When you feel good outside of the court, you’re also going to feel good inside the court. And that’s some balance that we – all players – at least most of us want to have and want to achieve. 

“This, you know, just gives me a little bit more stability in playing. And, you know, when I’m finishing tournaments, if I’m losing, I’m happy to go home. I’m going to see my family. If I’m staying at the tournament, it’s also great. So. both sides, it’s great.”