At 39, Feliciano Lopez is not just showing up, he’s winning

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Feliciano Lopez doesn’t remember much about his first Grand Slam match. It was 2001, the French Open, and he was 19 years old.

“I think I got killed in the first round by Carlos Moya, if I’m not wrong. He was my idol growing up,” Lopez said. “For me, it was like a gift, to play Carlos at the French Open.”

Nearly 20 years later, Lopez is not only still competing at the Grand Slam events, but doing the unthinkable for someone his age (going on 40). He rallied from two sets down, on a hot, humid day, to beat No. 31 Lorenzo Sonego 5-7, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 at the Australian Open.

“He probably didn’t expect it, after two sets to love (up), you don’t expect the 39-year-old guy is going to come back,” Lopez, admittedly exhausted, said after the match.

Perhaps even more astonishing, Lopez is playing at his 75th consecutive Grand Slam event, a record among men’s singles players. He hasn’t missed a major since the 2002 French Open.

To put this in perspective, Roger Federer managed 65 consecutive Grand Slams before he had to withdraw from the 2016 French Open with an injury. The closest male player with an active streak is Italy’s Andreas Seppi at 62; among the women, it’s Alize Cornet at 56.

Lopez has carved out a decent career for himself, with seven career titles (more than half coming on his beloved grass) and four quarterfinal appearances at the Slams (including three at Wimbledon).

But it’s his longevity and consistency that sets him apart from the rest. Getting into the main draws of majors on a regular basis depends on maintaining a top-100 ranking, and Lopez has done this, too, for most of his career. (He’s currently ranked No. 65.)

Lopez even managed to keep his streak alive here in Melbourne despite the hard decisions about traveling not long after his wife gave birth to their first child, Dario, a little over a month ago.

“I didn’t know if I was going to be able to come here,” he said after his first-round win. “I was until the last minute thinking about what should I do, if I come or if I finally stay home.”

The trip was arguably worth it – particularly after his improbable, come-from-behind win against Sonego. It may just be the most memorable five-set match of his career, he said.

“To win a match in a Slam for me now is very special. If I do it the way I did today, even more,” he said. “So, to be in the third round now, it’s something very special for me. That’s why I’m very happy today.”


Former No. 1 and 2018 Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki is getting ready to add “Mom” to her list of titles.

The 30-year-old from Denmark announced on Twitter that she is pregnant, writing: “Can’t wait to meet our baby girl in June!”

Wozniacki also posted a picture that included sonogram photos, baby shoes and a stuffed animal.

She retired from professional tennis after a third-round loss last year at Melbourne Park.

Wozniacki married former NBA player David Lee in 2019.


Mixed doubles matches don’t get much traction early on at Grand Slam tournaments. Last year, Jamie Murray and Bethanie Mattek-Sands changed all that – and they’re back this year as a team at the Australian Open.

Murray and Mattek-Sands, the eventual runners-up, beat the top-seeded team of Barbora Strycova and Marcelo Melo in the first round last year.

Two games into that match is when all the fun started. Mattek-Sands hit a shot down the line to apparently win a point. But the chair umpire gave the point to Melo and Strycova, citing hindrance from Murray because he called for a challenge in the middle of the rally.

The decision stunned Mattek-Sands and Murray, and an argument ensued between the pair and the chair umpire that lasted 10 minutes.

“Tell me, how else are you supposed to call a challenge in the middle of a fast point,” Mattek-Sands said to the umpire. “Do you know how fast the ball comes at me?

The umpire said Mattek-Sands needed to have stopped the rally for the challenge to have occurred, and the point to Strycova and Melo stood.

Strycova is also back this year with a new partner, Nikola Mektic, as the top seeds in the draw. Mattek-Sands and Murray are unseeded.

Mixed doubles were cancelled at the U.S, Open and French Open last year because of restrictions in place for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Top-ranked Swiatek, Kvitova reach quarters at Agel Open

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Top-ranked Iga Swiatek advanced to the quarterfinals of the Agel Open after Ajla Tomljanovic retired with an injury during the second set of their second-round match on Wednesday.

The Polish U.S. Open champion was leading 7-5, 2-2 when her Australian opponent retired due to a left knee injury at the indoor hardcourt event in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava.

Swiatek, who also won the French Open in June, will next face American qualifier Catherine McNally or Karolina Muchova.

Home favorite and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova upset second-seeded Paula Badosa of Spain 7-6 (4), 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal against this year’s Wimbledon winner Elena Rybakina, who rallied to eliminate Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-5.

Czech players also won the last two first-round matches on the schedule.

Muchova knocked out seventh-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 6-4, 6-4 and Barbora Krejcikova ousted American Shelby Rogers 6-2, 6-2 for her sixth straight victory after she won the Tallinn Open on Sunday for her first WTA title of the year.

Djokovic near flawless to reach second round in Astana

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ASTANA, Kazakhstan – Novak Djokovic delivered a near-flawless performance to ease into the second round of the Astana Open with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Cristian Garin on Wednesday as he goes for a third straight tournament title.

Djokovic dropped just six points on his serve and won the last five games to seal the win in just 62 minutes.

Djokovic is coming off a victory in Tel Aviv last week and – aside from a match at the Laver Cup – the Wimbledon champion hasn’t lost since the French Open quarterfinals.

“From the start to the end, (it was) a great performance,” Djokovic said. “Playing in a new tournament, different conditions, the first match is never easy. Obviously you are looking to see how you are going to adapt, but I did it perfectly, really, played as well as I can.”

Djokovic will next play Botic van de Zandschulp.

Top-ranked Carlos Alcaraz lost in the opening round on Tuesday in his first match since winning the U.S. Open title to capture the No. 1 spot.

Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the quarterfinals by beating 19-year-old Luca Nardi of Italy 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3). Nardi was playing just his fifth tour-level main-draw match and impressed the third-seeded Greek, who didn’t earn a single break point.

“He’s a player that can play very well in the future,” Tsitsipas said. “There weren’t any holes. I believe today he was able to sustain that level from the beginning to end, and that was extremely impressive.”

Roberto Bautista Agut also reached the quarterfinals as he followed up his first-round upset of Felix Auger-Aliassime by beating Pavel Kotov 6-1, 7-6 (5).

Marin Cilic, who lost the Tel Aviv final to Djokovic, had to come from behind to beat Oscar Otte 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-2 in the first round to set up a round-of-16 match against Karen Khachanov.