The Madrid Open is going to have a new tournament director, and he's currently ranked No. 36 in the world. Feliciano Lopez will replace current director Manolo Santana beginning in 2019.

"From today I officially become part of the great Madrid family," Lopez wrote. "It starts a new stage that is very exciting for me."

Lopez is now the second active player to be named tournament director of a high-profile combined event. In June 2016, Tommy Haas was named to the same position for the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. But Haas was dealing with multiple injuries and surgeries, and was nowhere near the Top 100, while indicating he would retire soon.


The 36-year-old Lopez has not discussed retiring just yet. One of the premiere clay court tournaments leading up to Roland Garros, the Madrid Open saw record attendance in 2017 with an estimated 260,000 fans filling the stands.

The event caused a stir back in 2012 when organizers switched from red to blue clay. The infamous move, led by Ion Tiriac, only lasted a year after players complained about the jarring court color and slippery conditions.

Now it’ll be up to Lopez to consider such changes for the tournament in the near future. He’ll serve as assistant director under current director Santana to learn the ropes before taking the reigns in 2019.

Lopez’s best finish at Madrid has been the quarterfinals, most recently in 2014.