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Lopez: Rafa Will Rise Again; Spanish Tennis May Not

Rafael Nadal will rise again in the rankings, says the last man to beat the King of Clay in tournament play.

Feliciano Lopez, who bounced buddy Nadal out Cincinnati, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (3), with a bold display of attacking tennis last month, believes Nadal will regain his form if not this season, then next.

More: Fish Falls to Lopez in US Open Farewell

Asked what advice he would give Nadal to help him regain his form, Lopez initially looked a bit taken aback by the question.

"From me to him? It should be the opposite," Lopez said with a smile.

The 19th-ranked Spaniard says if you need signs of Nadal's impending revival, just look at how a revitalized Roger Federer has performed this season

"All those players they have been through tough moments. I remember Roger two or three years ago he was not playing his best, but he was able to come back stronger, as he is now," Lopez said. "And Rafa, I think he is gonna do the same. It's not easy to be on the top of the hill every year. So he's not playing his best, but I think he's gonna be okay. If not this year then next year."

Spanish tennis, however, will not reproduce the success of this generation, Lopez says.

There are currently 13 Spaniards ranked in the ATP Top 100. Twelve Spanish men were in the singles field at the start of this US Open.

Lopez, the third highest ranked Spaniard behind No. 7 David Ferrer and No. 8 Nadal said Spain will not produce another generation as highly-accomplished as this one, that also features Tommy Robredo, Fernando Verdasco, Roberto Bautista Agut, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Pablo Andujar, Pablo Carreno Busta and Marcel Granollers,

"No, I don't think [there will be another generation like this]. First of all, it's tough to compare [generations]," Lopez said. "There won't be any other generation like this one, that's for sure. The sports in Spain, the last 10 years, has been the best it can be. Soccer, we won everything. Tennis, basketball and it's gonna be over sooner or later. And we have to accept that it's not gonna be another generation like that."

Photo credit: Western & Southern Open