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Feliciano Lopez Blogs From New Haven

Feliciano Lopez© Feliciano Lopez

Wednesday, August 23, 2006   
Well, it was a full bus this morning with about 50 players and coaches traveling from New Haven to New York City. I saw a lot of French guys on the bus - Clement, Mahut, Benneteau. It wasn't a noisy ride. Most people were like me - trying to get some sleep and listening to their iPods. The trip took about two hours and the bus stopped near the Intercontinental in midtown. At that point I jumped in a cab with my coach and trainer - and also Nicolas Almagro, who we dropped off on the way - to go to our hotel near Central Park.

We checked in between 12.30 and 1 and then the first thing I did was go to the Nike store to pick up some shoes so I could practice. I couldn't wait till our big distribution day tomorrow. The US hard courts really kill the shoes and the pair I wore in New Haven were dead.

Tomorrow will be the big day. They give us so much stuff, but we have to be careful not to go silly because we have to take it all back to Spain after the Open. Because this is the last distribution of the year I'll probably get something like this: Five or six pairs of match shoes, one pair of running shoes, some different pairs of casual shoes, match clothes, practice stuff, bandanas.. everything!

We had lunch at the hotel and then left at 2.45 for Flushing Meadows. The draw was made around 11 in the morning but my first chance to see the draw came when I checked in at player registration on site. I quickly scanned the draw and found that I play the third seed Ljubicic. After that I looked to see who Rafa was playing and then I looked for the other Spanish guys.

I practiced from 4-6 with Santoro. Although he doesn't play like anyone else you're likely to play in the draw I enjoy practicing with him. He's fun to play with and very smart. After practice I ran for about 30 minutes and then took transportation back to the hotel.

Tonight I'll be going to dinner with my brother, a friend of mine from Madrid, my coach, trainer and Rafa. We're going to a Japanese restaurant.

Thanks for checking out the blog this week. I've had a lot of people tell me they read it.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006   
I was just finishing practice around 11.20 when the coach of Olivier Rochus came to the practice courts. "Did you know you're playing Melzer?" he said.
"Bjorkman has pulled out."

And that's how you know you're playing a lucky loser. Normally the ATP Supervisor would tell you as soon as he knows but in this case it must have just happened and I was out on court. I'm guessing Rochus' coach was in the player lounge and heard about it just before he came out to practice.

Even though I now had to prepare to play a left-hander I didn't rush around trying to find a lefty to practice against. I was just finishing up my practice. Even though I knew Jonas had pulled out of the Cincinnati singles last week I expected him to play here. Because in Cincinnati, even after pulling out of the singles, he played doubles, beat Rafa and me and then won the title.

Unfortunately I lost today and tomorrow I'll be on the tournament-provided bus at 10 am going into New York City. There will be about 50 guys and girls on the bus, which leaves from the tournament hotel. After the match I just came back to the hotel room and watched some TV and spoke to my family and girlfriend on the phone. She knows that after a loss I don't like to talk much about the match so we spoke mostly about her flight details. She's flying into New York on Thursday.

Last night I went to a very nice Spanish restaurant in the city out here. It was Nicolas Almagro's birthday so a lot of the Spanish guys were there celebrating. There seems to be a competition among the restaurants to see who can get the most players - we have been given coupons for free dinners and last night I shared a few starters with my coach and trainer and then I had a steak.

My brother came out to watch me today on the train but headed back after the match. I will make one more post tomorrow to tell you how the bus trip went and about my first day in the big city.


Monday, August 21, 2006  

Hello again,

It was great to win my first round match against Volandri today but unfortunately my form didn't carry over to the golf course. In fact, if I played tennis the way I played golf, the result would have been like a 6-0, 6-0 loss to Roger Federer. I must have finished 15 or 16 over par for nine holes, so tell Tiger that he has nothing to worry about. More of the golfing disaster in a minute...

After my match I got something to eat in the players' restaurant and while waiting in line for some pasta I talked with Svetlana Kuznetsova. Earlier in her career she trained at the Sánchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona and she now lives in Barcelona, so she speaks very good Spanish. It had been a long time since I had seen her so we basically just asked her what she had been up to. She said that she lost to Hingis last week in her first tournament back since Wimbledon.

Then it was off to the golf course, which was just about 10 minutes away. That's the great thing about the States - you never have to go far to play golf. I really enjoy playing golf and play quite a bit during the year. But today was a very bad performance. The low light came on one of the par fours which had water in front of the tee and also water that came into play if you hit a long slice. So it was kind of a tough shot. (For those of you wondering, although I play tennis left-handed I play golf right-handed.)

I decided to go for safety to begin with and took out the four iron. But you really needed to hit quite a long shot to clear the water, which I didn't. Then I said 'Okay, it's time for the driver.' That was a mistake. It's a tough hole for the driver. Still, that didn't stop me using the driver again to put a third ball in the water. I just picked up my ball and gave up on the hole. Fortunately my playing partners - Luis Horna, my friend David and my coach, Galo Blanco - didn't give me too much of a hard time.

After Wimbledon I started working with both Galo and Albert Costa. As many of you know Albert is the father of twin girls, so he doesn't want to do too much traveling. But hopefully after the US Open you'll see him on the road with me a bit.

Last night I went to the players' party with David Ferrer and his coach but we arrived late - around 8.45 - and didn't stay too long. Although there was some light food we wanted to go to a restaurant and get a big serve of pasta to prepare for today's match. Rafa didn't come to the party. He practiced late so I think he just had room service at the hotel.

Tomorrow I play my second-round match against Jonas Bjorkman. With a Saturday final you have to play every day if you keep winning. Of course I would love to reach the final here like I did last year.

More tomorrow.

Sunday, August 20, 2006   
Hello everyone from New Haven.

I arrived here yesterday from Cincinnati, catching a 7am flight, which was sort of tough. Tonight is the players party from 6 to 9 in a bar close to the hotel. I will go to that but won't be too late as I play my first match tomorrow. I also went to the party last year and just about all of the players were there. I remember having some pizza.

I had a nice surprise for the tournament director Anne Worcester. I spoke to her on the courts today and told her that Rafa was coming to get in some practice. It's too early for him to go to New York to practice as none of the players are there. You can imagine that Ann was very surprised, but because the draw had already been made she knew there was no point asking if Rafa wanted to play the event.

Rafa wants to practice here today and tomorrow. Today he couldn't find anyone to hit with so he hit with my coach. The fans were very surprised to see him here and when word started to get around it became packed around his practice court. Tomorrow I think he's going to practice with Blake.

Rafa and I are doubles partners and very good friends. We share almost everything and practice a lot together. It's good to be around a guy with so much energy! We became friends during a year when we shared a coach, Francisco Roig. He still sometimes helps Rafa when Uncle Toni is not with him.

I practiced twice today - first with David Ferrer and then with Boris Pashanski - and also did some fitness work.

I didn't check email today but I did get a text message from my brother. He's just flown into New York from Madrid and he's brought some friends with him. His message was just a basic one: "I had a safe flight. We've just arrived - We're getting a taxi and going to the hotel.

Thanks for reading my first post. Check back for another one after my match against Volandri tomorrow.

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