When he lost to Kyle Edmund at last year’s Davis Cup, Feliciano Lopez broke Fabrice Santoro’s long-standing record of 444 career ATP losses. But the title of “biggest loser” in ATP history might not be safe for too long; the 38-year-old Spaniard lost only 15 matches in 2019 (won 12), with his ranking plummeting to the point where he had to play qualifiers for Masters 1000 events. A title at Queen’s Club is the only thing keeping Lopez in the top 100 at the moment.
Meanwhile, countryman Fernando Verdasco is two years younger and is currently at 417 losses, trailing Lopez by only 29 losses. He seems more primed for longevity with his dangerous and powerful groundstrokes, especially off the forehand. Last year, Verdasco went 26-27, losing 12 more matches than Lopez; it is very conceivable, even probable, that Verdasco’s ranking remains in a range that allows him entry to Masters tournaments and 500 events for significantly longer than Lopez, thus allowing him to accumulate the losses necessary to surpass him. It will be an interesting subplot to follow as the careers of these two players wind down.
Feliciano Lopez challenged by Fernando Verdasco
With the longevity of tennis careers trending up since the beginning of the century, it’s highly possible that the record–be it Lopez’s or Verdasco’s in five years–doesn’t last too long. There has never been more potential for longevity for players who are good enough to remain solid ATP presences for a very long time but not quite good enough to win titles with any regularity. Someone like Benoit Paire might be a candidate to challenge this record at some point down the line. The mercurial Frenchman has already collected 228 losses at 30 years of age and has been losing around 30 matches every year for the past five years.
For now, though, it’s between Lopez and Verdasco. A look at the Australian Open draw reveals why Verdasco is likely to seriously bridge the current 29-loss gap; Lopez is expected to crash in the first round of the tournament, while Verdasco is a strong favorite to win his first match and has chances to go further in tournament. Verdasco just seems more likely at the moment to maintain his ATP level for longer.
Remember, it takes a lot of talent to lose a lot of ATP matches. A player has to get into tournaments in order to lose. This record isn’t an ignominious one. It’s a sign of talent and longevity–but not quite enough talent to win tournaments.
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