Feliciano Lopez: Can He Reach the Top 10 of the Men's Rankings?

Van SiasContributor IIIJanuary 20, 2012

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 20:  Feliciano Lopez of Spain plays a backhand in his third round match against John Isner of the United States of America during day five of the 2012 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 20, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Lucas Dawson/Getty Images)
Lucas Dawson/Getty Images

After his five-set win over John Isner, Feliciano Lopez of Spain is among the final 16 men left at this year's Australian Open. Next up for Lopez is his countryman Rafael Nadal, whom he holds a 2-8 record against.

However, Lopez is at his best on faster surfaces and if he were to somehow pull off the upset, he would find himself higher than his career-best ranking of 19 now, and perhaps knocking on the door of the top 10.

That's a tall order and a lot riding on a fourth-round encounter.

But in the past year, Lopez has been playing some of the best tennis of his career: In 2011, he made the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and reached the semifinals of the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Shanghai.

And among the players he defeated over the year were Andy Roddick, Gael Monfils, Tomas Berdych and Mardy Fish, all of whom at this point have spent considerable time in the top 10.

The question is, can Lopez join them?

Technically, he is one of the best attackers on the men's tour: Lopez has a big left-handed serve, which he can hit flat or swing out wide to pull his opponents off the court. He backs that up with superb athleticism, as well as great hands and awareness around the net.

His forehand is also a weapon that he can use to hurt his opponents, as he's capable of hitting it flat or using it to move the other players around.

If there's one thing about Lopez's game that has some deficiencies, it's his backhand, which is often attacked by whomever he's going against. While his topspin might not be particularly effective, he does enough to cover it and get himself in a winning position.

More times than not, you see him using the slice in baseline rallies or on approach shots if he's not able to hit the forehand.

Lopez is actually a bit of a throwback in the men's game right now, being among the few players looking to finish points off at the net as much as possible.

Will that style carry the 30-year-old Spaniard to the top 10? He's putting out a career-best effort at this point: Why stop at 19?