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'Monsters and Animals': Lopez on Route 66 With Slam Record

Feliciano Lopez set a new record for consecutive Grand Slam appearances on Tuesday when he started his 66th major in a row at Wimbledon, attributing the landmark to playing in an era of "monsters and animals".

AFP

Updated:July 3, 2018, 7:19 PM IST
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'Monsters and Animals': Lopez on Route 66 With Slam Record
Twitter/ Gaspar Ribeiro Lança
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Feliciano Lopez set a new record for consecutive Grand Slam appearances on Tuesday when he started his 66th major in a row at Wimbledon, attributing the landmark to playing in an era of "monsters and animals".

The 36-year-old left-handed Spaniard had equalled Roger Federer's mark at Roland Garros this year.

On Tuesday, the 70th-ranked Lopez grabbed the record outright when he faced Federico Delbonis of Argentina at the All England Club before completing a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win.

Lopez has not missed a Slam since making his debut at the 2001 French Open.

"When I was about to break the record, I thought, wow, I'm going to beat Federer at something!" joked Lopez who has lost all 13 matches he has played against Federer in his career.

Lopez admitted that playing at the same time as Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had helped inspire him to keep going despite never making the semis of a Slam or breaking the world's top 10.

"The most important thing is to stay healthy and to be able to compete against these monsters, because for me I played in the past against monsters," he explained.

"After I passed 30 it was so important for me to stay fresh and healthy, just to challenge these animals, because their level overall is getting higher and higher in the last decade."

Lopez's best runs at the majors have all come at Wimbledon with three quarter-final runs in 2005, 2008 and 2011.

He also made the last eight at the US Open in 2015.

Three of his six career tour titles have come on grass -- at Eastbourne in 2013 and 2014 and Queen's last year -- in a testament to his effortless serve-and-volley style.

Lopez said there was no great secret to his longevity which has seen him spared any serious injuries.

He has also been helped by his easy style.

"I think I don't play so many rallies. Also my technique. I play quite easy, so I don't make a huge effort in every single shot that I play. That's also important," said Lopez who next faces fifth seeded Juan Martin del Potro, the former US Open champion.

"I don't drink Coke. I don't eat bread, no milk. Those three things I don't take. The rest -- I eat everything."

"I have been very lucky."

Federer was quick to congratulate Lopez, who he first played as a junior in the unlikely tennis surroundings of Hatfield to the north of London.

"I'm happy for him. I had a good run," said the eight-time Wimbledon champion.

"But it's nice that more and more players are able to keep themselves in shape.

"Especially I think as Feliciano and me, we go way back to the Junior European Championships under-16s in Hatfield, all the way to today, that we can talk about breaking each other's records, him breaking mine.

"It's a great thing. It's a testament for both of us to keep yourself in shape, loving the sport."
| Edited by: Madhav Agarwal
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