Feliciano Lopez recently lavished rich praise on compatriot Rafael Nadal, particularly highlighting how he is producing his best tennis despite being well into his 30s. Lopez even claimed that Nadal can not only carry on playing for a few more years, but also that he has the ability to keep improving with age.
Rafael Nadal is currently slated to participate in the 2021 Mutua Madrid Masters, where Feliciano Lopez is the tournament director. Nadal recently won his 12th Barcelona Open title, despite having been in poor form leading up to the tournament.
In that context, Lopez claimed that very few players can emulate Nadal's unparalleled success at his age. Lopez also pointed out that the World No. 2 is still highly motivated to do well, and can thus continue playing for a few more years.
"Few players with 34 years could think that they would be where he (Rafael Nadal) is right now," Lopez said. "He has shown that he is with the illusion intact and that is also very complicated. I find the moment in which he is (currently at) incredible, (and) I even see him get better in tennis. I think Rafa remains for a while."
Rafael Nadal has the ability to continue at a high level: Feliciano Lopez
One of the main attributes that has set Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic apart from the rest of the field has been their longevity. All three players are well into their 30s (with Federer touching 40), but have still achieved enormous success in recent years.
Feliciano Lopez pointed out that while aging often adversely impacts some players, the same cannot be said for Rafael Nadal.
"Age does not forgive, but Rafa has the ability to continue with 34 years at a high level, physically and mentally to continue winning," Lopez continued.
The 39-year-old further explained that, at Nadal's age, you cannot plan too far ahead into the future without first achieving your goals for the ongoing season.
"It is very complicated when you are that age you cannot think how many more years you are going to play if you do not think about playing that year to the fullest," Lopez said.
Novak Djokovic's withdrawal from Madrid Masters was surprising: Feliciano Lopez
During the interview, Feliciano Lopez was also probed about the withdrawals of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer from the Madrid Masters. Lopez revealed that while Federer's decision was on expected lines, Novak Djokovic's decision was 'surprising'.
"We expected Federer's thing (but) Djokovic's is a little more surprising, but the calendar is what it is," Lopez said. "You have to accept that there will be some player who does not want to come."