The Spaniard had just been paired with Andy Murray in the third round at the US Open and the assembled press were quite clearly salivating for a fresh take on 'Deliciano-gate', Judy Murray's by-now infamous amorous tweet in his direction and the clear embarrassment it caused her son.
Cue much blushing in Flushing, but thankfully the 30-year-old knows how to play the game. His answer may have been well rehearsed, and fell just short of scrawling her name in a heart on his pencil case, but he made it clear that the feeling was mutual.
"I'm a great fan of her as well," said the man from Toledo. "I have told her that. Judy is a great person and Andy and Jamie are also great guys. I know everybody has been joking about Judy and me but we are good friends and I admire her personality and her charisma. She has been working with Andy for a long time. It is good to meet Andy so we can have this story again!"
There was nothing forced about his charm, but whether the 30-year-old Lopez is genuinely looking forward to meeting up with Andy on a tennis court again is not quite so certain. In the course of the pair's previous six meetings, the Spaniard has been afforded a solitary set. He experienced particularly painful back-to-back quarter-final defeats in this match-up at Wimbledon and the US Open last year.
"It is always difficult when you have a negative record against a player, but this is another chance for me to challenge Andy and play better than I did here last year," Lopez said. "I remember he played a great match against me at Wimbledon at a time when I was playing my best tennis, having beaten [Andy] Roddick and some good players. He found a way to return my serve pretty easy although it was a bit of a different match in New York. It was really windy and I didn't play my best. I just hope to play much better on Saturday, but it is only one year ago so I don't think that anything has changed since that match."
The crux of the problem is that Lopez fails to conform to the national stereotype. While Spanish players habitually populate the baseline, he has a big serve and likes to travel frequently to the net. Employing such tactics against one of the finest passers in the men's game seems like ritual self-sacrifice and Lopez admitted he may have to come up with a different formula.
"I will think about that and try to change something from our last match," Lopez said. "It is true he is a good returner and he likes playing aggressive players like me who attack and try to go for the point every time. I have to try to take my chances. I don't think I have to stay on the baseline. I have to play differently, rather than stay there all the time. I like to play short points and that is helping me extend my career a little bit."
Another significant issue for the Spaniard to confront is the fact that, while Murray cruised past Ivan Dodig on Wednesday night, and has done little more than keep himself ticking over in the last few days, his own second round match against his fellow Spaniard Pablo Andujar was played out for an attritional four and a quarter hours in the arid mid-afternoon heat in New York.
"I just hope to be 100 per cent," Lopez said. "He won pretty easily against Dodig and I was watching a little bit of his match. I only have one day to recover and hopefully it will be enough."
Lopez and Murray share a friendship with Rafael Nadal, who is absent from this tournament through injury. "I'm really sad for him and for the game because it is a long time since he played at Wimbledon," Lopez said. "His charisma is so big and when he is on the court everybody is so happy to watch him. But I think he is doing the right things to recover. It doesn't make sense to play here if he is not 100 per cent."
In Nadal's absence, and barring any slip-ups today, the Olympic champion continues to look as well placed as any to record his maiden major win here. Although Roger Federer continued to make unfettered progress overnight with a dismissal of Germany's Bjorn Phau, the Scot's path to what could be a semi-final with the Swiss became clearer with the surprise dismissal of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Scot's next assignment, however, already looks far tougher; he is scheduled to face either Milos Raonic or James Blake, the American who appears to be enjoying a renaissance in his home slam, in the last 16.
But first he must dispose of Lopez, where complacency, and the heat and humidity of Labor Day weekend in New York, may be as much of a problem as his opponent. Murray feels the elements shouldn't be as gruelling as in his opening round match against Alex Bogomolov Jnr. "Possibly against Lopez it will be a difficult match," the Scot said. "Points should be a lot shorter. And if I serve like I did against Dodig I won't have to do so much running."
Should Lopez upset the odds and turn the tables on her son today, one suspects Judy might go right off him.
Contextual targeting label: