Bengaluru: Spanish World No 14 Feliciano Lopez is hopeful that compatriot Rafael Nadal will be fit by January before the Australian Open starts. "He has had surgery but is getting better and should be training in December, and hopefully in January, he will be ready to compete again," Lopez told told PTI here on Friday.
Lopez said he has had a wonderful relationship with Nadal, but felt sorry he could not play for almost half the year.
"We are very close. Good friends and I feel very sorry because he couldn't play for almost half of the year," he said.
"We are missing him a lot because he is one of the guys who makes tennis look big and tennis in general needs Rafa," said Lopez.
Lopez said Spain is going to have a tough time after the current generation of players are gone and the onus lies on the Federation to make young guys successful. "In tennis, we are in for a tough time after our generation and I think we have to work together to make young guys successful and the Federation has the responsibility to do that," he said.
"Spain has been one of the most successful sporting nation in the last 15 years as we have won in almost every major sport including Football World Cup and Euro Cup," Lopez said.
"Our sport was successful in the last 10-15 years. We won almost in every sport. We won WC in soccer, we won the European Cup twice. We were very good in basketball and tennis. This is not normal," he said said.
Lopez said that in every sport, there comes a transition phase and even their world famous football team is facing the crisis at the moment. "Sooner or later this is going to be done. You see in soccer we struggled, we are not doing well at the moment. We are still very good but not as good as we were before because we were like the best," Lopez said.
On Andy Murray's mother having a wolf whistle for 'Deliciano', Lopez said she is very funny when she called him Delciano instead of Feliciano.
"Ha ha (laughs). She's great. I am very good friends with Andy (Murray). His mother is very funny and she is always making fun of everything. And it was very funny in a way when she called me Deliciano. And they made a huge story on that," he said.
Lopez said he plays more aggressively than most of his compatriots as he is blessed with big serves which makes a different player than the usual Spanish players who are bred on clay courts.
"I grew up playing on clay ... I think God blessed me with a big serve so I think I have to take advantage of that. So that's why I play more aggressive than the rest of my friends from Spain," he said.
Talking about his late surge in the career after having a wonderful year so far, Lopez said his fitness alongside experience has been an icing on the cake. "I am more experienced, but I would say that my fitness conditioning is the most important part in order to be successful over 30 years old," he said.
On young guys who are going to make it count, Lopez said there is Grigor Dimitrov who is the best among the young guys. "To me, he is the best of the young guys to have just come out," he said.
Talking about the new talents, Lopez said Croatian Borna Coric, Australians Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis, all of these are good. "There is one guy from Croatia, Coric and Kyrgios from Australia. Last year, he reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon. He also beat Rafa (Nadal) in the fourth round and has a very impressive record," he said.
"Also another guy from Australia, Kokkinakis. He is also very good. Three to four players who are into the top-100 or nearly there. They are gonna make your guys talk a lot about them," he said.
Talking about playing in India, Lopez said he is very excited to be in India and be a part of CTL, which is a fun-tinged format. "Different format and very excited to be part of the league. India is a great country with such lovely people. It is my first time here and I think it is a great experience to be part of this league," he said. Talking about CTL format, Lopez said the rules are exciting for the fans, but are difficult to understand at times.
"It was difficult to sort of understand at times how they come because at the end there is sometimes a tie-break. I thought yesterday there was going to be a nine-point tie-break, but I think it is good for the fans, who are one of the most important parts of the game apart from the players," he said.
On India's Saketh Myneni serve, Lopez said, "I think he was great. He was hitting those big first serves and it was very hard to return those."