Monday, 10 January 2011

Marc Lopez interview - The Other Half of Team Lodal

Kindly translated by Bee, a Member of NadalNews

He has accumulated five titles, three together with Rafa Nadal and two more with David Marrero as his partner. This week he plays doubles in Auckland with Nicolás Almagro, the partner with whom he will also participate in the Australian Open. Last year he only played in 6 singles tournaments.

Marc López (Barcelona, 1982) has just landed in Auckland, where this week he will play doubles together with Nicolás Almagro. The Catalan has just come from winning his fifth career title in doubles together with Rafael Nadal and he hopes that the streak will continue during the year that has just started. Even with jetlag after a marathon journey to New Zealand territory, Marc amiably joined us in “Tie Break” the tennis programme of Radio MARCA…

Congratulations for your doubles win in Doha with Rafael Nadal.

I am very happy with this title and also for having got it together with Rafa who is a good friend.

The final was played the same day that Nadal fell to Davydenko in the semifinals after giving clear signs of fatigue. Were you worried about the final at any point?

Rafa had problems with the flu and a temperature during the whole week, but on the day of the final I was much more worried than he was. When he finished his match with Davydenko I asked him how he was, and told him that if he was really ill not to worry, that I would understand if he didn’t play the doubles. But it was he who told me to not worry and that he was going to play. He made the effort for me and because he really wanted to win the tournament. He now has ten days to recuperate before playing the Australian Open.

In 2009, after winning the title in Doha, Nadal put you on the spot making you speak in English in front of all the people

It was the first title of my career and he played a trick on me making me speak in English because he knows that I am not very good at it! This year my English hasn’t improved much, but I was quicker than him and told the presenter that I would speak in Spanish. It wasn’t a problem.

It looks as though you get on very well on court

We get on very well off court and that reflects in our game. I trained with him in Mallorca during the pre-season and we understand each other very well. The proof of that is when we have played doubles together we have had good results. We have three titles together and one of them was a Masters 1000 in Indian Wells that is on hard court and against the best teams on the circuit.

It is more usual to see you in doubles draws than in singles…

Already last year I played more doubles matches than singles. After having won in Indian Wells the difference in my ranking was considerable and I had to decide between focusing my career in doubles or singles. This year I will try to play some qualifying rounds to improve my individual ranking, but I am focused on doubles, since that is where I am having better results and where I feel most comfortable now.

With your victory in Doha, you have got to No 14 in the doubles ranking. That is just a step to the top ten.

For me being No 14 in the world is already amazing. I am not setting goals in that sense. The most important thing is to keep taking steps forward and what better way than starting the year with a title.

Nadal, Marrero, Riba, Robredo, … you don’t have a fixed partner on the doubles circuit.

It is difficult to find a fixed partner. Even last year I decided to change partners and the result was good. With Rafa I play the weeks that he can, with David I have also won titles… As the level of Spanish tennis is so high and I am comfortable with all the players and we get on well, I don’t have problems changing (partners). The important thing for me is to have a good time and try to win as many matches as I can.

What objectives have you set for 2011?

For me being No 14 in the world is a prize that I am enjoying and I want to confirm myself amongst the best in doubles. Winning the first week of the year has given me much confidence to face the rest of the season.

And you have been spending time with Nadal during recent days, how does he see the Australian Open?

I always see him very well. This week he has had fever symptoms but he has sufficient time to rest and get to Melbourne fit. He is very mentally prepared and knows what he has to do. He has won the last three Slams and faces the Australian Open with a lot of confidence.

In 2009 you won the doubles in Doha and Rafa won the Australian Open two weeks later. Does he believe that history could repeat itself?

So that you see that Rafa thinks up to the last detail, before playing the final in Doha he said to me “Marc, we have to win today, because two years ago we won the doubles here, and later I won the Australian Open”. He said it as a joke, but… I don’t think that it has anything to do with it, but hopefully having won in Doha will help him to reconquer the Australian Open. I believe in it.

To finish, let’s come back to you. Can you see yourself winning a Grand Slam or even playing in a Masters Cup?

The Masters Cup I see somewhat difficult because it takes playing regularly with one partner, and that is something that up to now I don’t do. And winning a Grand Slam has always been a dream. I have reached the quarter finals of Roland Garros twice, and to be able to win a “Slam” would be an enormous illusion. But I think that I am still a way off that.

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