The standing ovation in the Manolo Santana Stadium was the best possible send off for Marc Lopez, who brought a brilliant ATP Tour career to an end on Thursday. Tribute was paid to the Spanish player on the Mutua Madrid Open clay in recognition of a lifetime of sporting achievements.
Marc says adios to the Tour with a brilliant professional career under his belt. He is one of the most decorated doubles players in modern tennis, with a total of 14 titles to his name, including the gold medal from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with Rafael Nadal, the 2012 Nitto ATP Finals with Marcel Granollers and the Roland Garros crown he claimed with Feliciano Lopez. His achievements are now part of tennis history.
On an unforgettable day, the giant screens of the Manolo Santana Stadium showed an emotional homage to the Catalonian player, one of the best-loved among his peers. Nadal, Lopez and Granollers, the three doubles partners he has competed with throughout his career, had all recorded a heartfelt farewell for the memorable afternoon in the Spanish capital.
“’Bulet’, I hope you enjoyed your last game. It was a genuine pleasure to share practically a whole career with you,” said Nadal, with whom he won his first titles in the 2009 season. “Although it seems like it’s your last match, you never know. You’ve already said goodbye with Feli, now with Carlos. I think we should have our turn at some point in the future.”
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The Catalonian has enjoyed a few emotional weeks on Tour. After competing with Lopez at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, an event he had always dreamt of winning and eventually conquered alongside the Toledo native in 2018, Marc wanted the Madrid event to be the stage for his final matches, alongside Carlos Alcaraz, the great promise of Spanish tennis.
“I just want to congratulate you for everything. You’ve had an incredible career and, more importantly, you’ve achieved your dream; reaching the pinnacle of tennis,” Nadal continued. “I’m so glad there are people like you, good people, who things go so well for. Enjoy it and I wish you the best for the future. We’ll continue to share that future together, big hugs,” ended the Mallorcan, who added Marc to his coaching staff in December 2021.
The Barcelona native was unable to hide his emotions as he listened to the man from Manacor, a trusty teammate who played a vital role in some of the most important moments in his career.
The event provided the perfect send off for a hugely important figure in the history of Spanish tennis, who claimed a number of titles rarely won by members of the Armada in men’s doubles. The Roland Garros, for the first time since 1990, the Nitto ATP Finals, last won by a Spanish duo in the 70s, and the Olympic gold, never previously won by his countrymen, were all claimed by a Spaniard with an innate talent for the game.
One of the most special moments came on the court of the Manolo Santana Stadium. Feliciano, the man with whom he shares his only Grand Slam title, presented him with a commemorative framed picture of the highlights of his career. Arm in arm, Marc Lopez and the director of the Mutua Madrid Open listened to the message the latter had recorded for his friend.
”As you can imagine, it’s not easy for me to record a message for you. First, I want to congratulate you on your incredible career,” Feliciano said. “You’ve been a great champion, I’ve been lucky enough to share those moments with you on court. I wish you the best in your new life, with María and Berta. I hope another child will come soon. If there were more people in the world like you, it would be a better place. I wish you well in everything you do”.
Granollers, also had some words for the man with whom he formed one of the most recognisable teams on Tour.
“I wanted to congratulate you on your great career. Thank you for all the great moments we have shared. Also, thank you for being a great friend,” Granollers said. “Now I hope that your future, which is also very important, is just as successful as your tennis career. I’ll see you around at tournaments. Thank you for everything.”
It was a farewell for an athlete who is greatly admired for the way he has always competed but, above all, he was praised for the person he has always been.