Today Feliciano Lopez played not only one of the best matches of his season, but one of the best matches of his career. He made me remember why once upon a time, I was a fan of his. I remember a few years ago watching him in Wimbledon, and getting really excited about his game and the kind of player he could be. He has been a solid player, but has not exactly lived up to what I thought he could be. I have paid less attention to Feli of late. Too much focus on his appearance, his hair, his clothes, his emo attitude. An interesting side show, sure, but not someone whose tennis I could seriously follow.
But today there was a glimpse of the player Lopez could be. He stayed with Federer for the whole match both physically, banging down massive serves and slicing backhands, and, more importantly, mentally. In the 3rd set, when Feli got down 0-40 on his serve, I thought, well this is it. He played well, but he’ll get broken here and the match will be over. But no, he came back and held. He continuted to fight and got to the 3rd set tiebreak. He was not going to go down easily as we all expected. He was here to play.
The crowd started chanting, “Feli Feli Feli.” I got goosebumps, and I began to believe that he was really going to win. It’s exactly those kind of moments that always get you as a fan. When you really believe that a player will realize their potential and win the match no one thought they could. And though Feli did not defeat Federer today, he did prove that he could. That he is more than a pretty face with emo attitude. That when his game is on, he has the potential to beat anyone, on any surface. Even clay. So although he did not win the match, he did win back a wayward fan. Thanks, Felite, for reminding me just how good you can be.
(Pic via Getty Images)