The world of tennis says goodbye to one of its most enduring figures, Feliciano Lopez. At the age of 42, Lopez played his last match, ending a remarkable career that spanned more than two decades. As he retires, Lopez takes with him a wealth of memories and insights, having witnessed first-hand the rise and reign of three of the greatest players of all time: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Lopez, known as Federer's pen pal, shared a unique perspective on the dominance of the Big Three. "I lived in their era and I can say one thing, the big three will never happen again," he said in an interview with "Ace". He highlighted the unprecedented achievements of these players, highlighting Nadal's record-breaking Roland Garros titles and Djokovic's remarkable consistency.
Three Michael Jordans in the same generation
When asked about Carlos Alcaraz's potential to challenge for the big three, Lopez expressed admiration for the young Spaniard's talent but warned against unrealistic expectations.
"Carlos is incredibly talented, but let's not forget what the Big Three did. It's unreal that three Michael Jordans were born in the same generation, and that's exactly what happened in tennis," he noted. Lopez also acknowledged Alcaraz's age and the challenges of maintaining peak performance during a busy season.
"We forget how young Alcaraz is. He still can't win week after week like Djokovic," he pointed out. However, he praised Alcaraz's fearlessness and ability to rise to the occasion against the best players in the world.
The return of Nadal
Rafael Nadal's impending comeback in January has raised hopes of a resurgence of the old guard.
Lopez expressed optimism for Nadal's recovery and his chances of regaining the Roland Garros crown. "I would like Nadal to be back in form by Roland Garros and be able to win it again," he said. While the era of the Big Three may be coming to an end, the sport continues to evolve, promising new rivalries, exciting matches and the emergence of the next generation of tennis superstars.
We will probably only realize in a few years, when the Big Three are no longer playing, what kind of tennis era we lived in.