ATP Madrid: Feliciano Lopez edges Leonardo Mayer in thriller

Feliciano Lopez perservered in a hard-fought match over a clay-court specialist in Leonardo Mayer. The Spaniard picked up his second victory out of the pair’s three career meetings after the three-set brawl in front of Lopez’s home crowd.

Lopez grabs tight first set

Lopez and Mayer took to Manolo Santana to open up Monday’s Mutua Madrid Open action for an unseeded, but still intriguing first round clash. The pair was set to play each other for their third career meeting as they were to battle it out on the red clay. Mayer began the match with a hold to 15, but the match was soon leveled after a Lopez hold to 30. Both players possess dominant serves and it showed throughout the early match proceedings. The match remained on serve, despite the Spaniard holding a break point at two games apiece.

Lopez and Mayer kept the match dominantly on serve to force the first set to a tiebreaker. The first 11 points went the way of the server, until the home country hope stepped up to win his first return point of the tiebreaker. The world number 23 snatched a grueling, intense set at the one hour mark to take his first set off the Argentine since 2012.

Feliciano Lopez in Mutua Madrid Open action. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Feliciano Lopez in Mutua Madrid Open action. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Mayer forces deciding set

The Argentinian relentlessly took advantage of his only break point of the match to take a quick break advantage to open up the second set. Although the match did not see another break point until seven games later, it seemed as if the Spanish number four was dictating on serve more than Mayer was. The world number 42 faced a point to be broken back while serving up 4-3, but he fought it off to deny Lopez of his first break of the match.

The Spaniard served to stay in the match against the clay-court specialist. A commanding hold to 15 saw Lopez continue his dominance on serve as he lost his first service point after winning 15 straight points off his tricky left-handed serve. But a love hold from Mayer ended the second set after he clinched the set 6-4 in 43 enticing minutes.

Leonardo Mayer in Mutua Madrid Open action. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images


Leonardo Mayer in Mutua Madrid Open action. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Spaniard picks up crucial break to advance

The first match of the day extended past the two hour mark due to a lack of form on return from both competitors. The sixth game of the final set held the first break point as the second-ranked Argentine found himself in trouble on serve. But Lopez was unable to pounce, and the match continued its predictable pattern. An exchange of holds to 15 brought the decisive set to four games apiece.

The Spaniard approached the finish line with a hold to put him within a break of moving into the second round. On Lopez’s third time of asking, the 34-year-old clutched the three-set win after more than two and a half hours on court. The 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4 victory marked as the lefty’s second career victory over Mayer as he stole the match in clutch fashion.

Feliciano Lopez in Mutua Madrid Open action. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Feliciano Lopez in Mutua Madrid Open action. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Veteran Awaits His Second Round Opponent

The Spanish veteran will take on either a compatriot in Roberto Bautista Agut or the Colombian qualifier, Santiago Giraldo. The strong serve and skills at the net from Lopez will put his eventual second round opponent to the test on the divine clay of his residential city, Madrid. 

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