Instead of preparing at his highest intensity to defend his multiple crowns at Queens, Feliciano Lopez is currently in decision mode, wondering when tennis will resume amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The 39-year-old has been communicating with the ATP and other players' bodies to decide whether or not the US Open should go ahead, and he believes it should - even if Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal don't play.
A year ago today, Feliciano Lopez embarked on what he described as the 'best week of his life' as the Queens Club Championships kicked off at the All England Club in London. Despite being ranked 113th in the world at the time, Lopez reigned supreme in both the men's singles and men's doubles categories, helping complete a fairytale comeback for Andy Murray in the latter.
But now he has resigned himself to the grasscourt season being voided, and is looking forward to the resumption of tennis on the New York hardcourts.
It is not the time to think about just 2-3 players like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic: Feliciano Lopez
Speaking to journalists during a Zoom conference about the possibility of the US Open being played, Lopez said:
"Speaking about myself, I will go and play. I think the US Open they know they might be many players that don’t want to go and play there. I think they know already. They are thinking about that."
Lopez further went on to say that although the US Open organizers would want the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to be participating in the tournament, the tournament should go ahead even if they are not. The 39-year-old said:
"Of course it will be great if they can have Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and all the big names. My personal opinion is that they are planning to have the event thinking that some of the top players – I don’t know how many – might not play. Now I don’t think it is the time to think about two or three players. I think it is time to think about everybody and not only the players, it is also the tournaments, the ATP."
Lopez also highlighted the economic concerns of the ATP and the players outside the top 32 rankings of the world.
"Remember that the ATP is also struggling economically if tournaments are not happening. It is four or five months already, it is very, very long. We need to start rolling I think for the benefit of everyone almost," Lopez said.
"But I respect that Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic, they don’t want to go and play the US Open in those specific conditions. I respect it – I think this is fair also," he added.
Many top players have expressed their concerns about the US Open taking place with little support staff and no fan presence. The most prominent of those players is Novak Djokovic, who has voiced his concerns very actively.
In agreement with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal also expressed his reservations about the tournament. Meanwhile Roger Federer - who ended his 2020 season due to injury shortly after - was also not too keen to participate in a Grand Slam without fans.
Recently, Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov and Dominic Thiem all echoed the concerns of Novak Djokovic at the press meet for the Adria Tour of exhibition tournaments, hosted by the Serb himself.