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.

Gael Monfils withdraws from French Open with wrist injury

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PARIS — A thrilling five-set victory took a toll on Gael Monfils, whose withdrawal from the French Open handed No. 6 Holger Rune a walkover to the third round.

The 36-year-old Frenchman said he has a strained left wrist and can’t continue.

He battled Sebastian Baez for nearly four hours on Court Philippe Chatrier before beating the Argentine 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 in a first-round match that ended at 12:18 a.m. local time.

The victory was Monfils’ first at tour level this year, as the veteran was coming back from heel surgery.

“Actually, physically, I’m quite fine. But I had the problem with my wrist that I cannot solve,” he said. “The doctor say was not good to play with that type of injury. Yesterday was actually very risky, and then today definitely say I should stop.”

Monfils reached the semifinals at the French Open in 2008 and made it to the quarterfinals on three other occasions.

Mikael Ymer fined about $40K after default for hitting umpire stand with racket

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

PARIS — Swedish tennis player Mikael Ymer was docked about $40,000 after being disqualified for smashing his racket against the umpire’s chair at a tournament the week before he competed at the French Open.

An ATP Tour spokesman said Ymer forfeited about $10,500 in prize money and 20 rankings he earned for reaching the second round of the Lyon Open. Ymer also was handed an on-site fine of about $29,000.

The spokesman said the ATP Fines Committee will conduct a review of what happened to determine whether any additional penalties are warranted.

The 56th-ranked Ymer, who is 24 and owns a victory over current No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, was defaulted in Lyon for an outburst late in the first set against French teenager Arthur Fils last week.

Ymer was upset that the chair umpire would not check a ball mark after a shot by Fils landed near a line. As the players went to the sideline for the ensuing changeover, Ymer smacked the base of the umpire’s stand with his racket twice – destroying his equipment and damaging the chair.

That led to Ymer’s disqualification, making Fils the winner of the match.

After his 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 loss to 17th-seeded Lorenzo Musetti in the first round at Roland Garros, Ymer was asked whether he wanted to explain why he reacted the way he did in Lyon.

“With all due respect, I think it’s pretty clear from the video what caused it and why I reacted the way I reacted. Not justifying it at all, of course,” Ymer replied. “But for me to sit here and to explain? I think it’s pretty clear what led me to that place. I think that’s pretty clear in the video.”