Acapulco 2022: Rafael Nadal vs Stefan Kozlov preview, head-to-head & prediction | Abierto Mexicano Telcel

Rafael Nadal (L) and Stefan Kozlov.
Rafael Nadal (L) and Stefan Kozlov.

Match details

Fixture: (4) Rafael Nadal vs (LL) Stefan Kozlov.

Date: 23 February 2022.

Tournament: Abierto Mexicano Telcel 2022.

Round: Second round (Round of 16).

Venue: Acapulco, Mexico.

Category: ATP 500.

Surface: Outdoor hardcourt.

Prize money: $1,832,890.

Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video | India - Tennis TV.

Rafael Nadal vs Stefan Kozlov preview

Nadal at the 2022 Australian Open.
Nadal at the 2022 Australian Open.

Fourth seed Rafael Nadal will square off against lucky loser Stefan Kozlov in the second round of the 2022 Abierto Mexicano Telcel on Wednesday.

Nadal continued his impeccable start to the year in Mexico, scoring a 6-3, 6-2 win over Denis Kudla in the first round. The Spaniard was dominant from start to finish and put up a commanding performance to win his 11th consecutive match of the season.

It has been a dream start to the year for Nadal after he ended his 2021 season early due to an injury. He made his comeback at the Melbourne Summer Set in January, where he won his 89th career title.

Nadal followed it up by winning the Australian Open for the first time since 2009. It was his record 21st Grand Slam title and he completed a double career Grand Slam as well.

Stefan Kozlov at the 2022 Delray Beach Open.
Stefan Kozlov at the 2022 Delray Beach Open.

After losing in the qualifying rounds, Stefan Kozlov hung around in Acapulco for a while. He decided to go waterskiing and ended up stranded at sea before being rescued.

The American was then practicing with Nadal, but had to end the session abruptly when he found out he had secured a main draw spot as a lucky loser.

In the first round, Kozlov battled past Grigor Dimitrov in a match lasting more than three hours. Both players gave it their all, but in the end the 24-year-old scored a 7-6 (8), 5-7, 6-3 upset win over his established opponent.

It's been a rather overwhelming few days for Kozlov, but his journey in Mexico is still far from over.

Rafael Nadal vs Stefan Kozlov head-to-head

This will be their first meeting on the ATP tour, so the head-to-head stands at 0-0 for now.

Rafael Nadal vs Stefan Kozlov prediction

Rafael Nadal at the 2022 Melbourne Summer Set.
Rafael Nadal at the 2022 Melbourne Summer Set.

Nadal will be favored to win this encounter based on his brilliant start to the season.

He was in good form in his opening-round match in Mexico. The Spaniard seemed to be moving well, was on top of his service game and pounded some fierce groundstrokes as well.

Alternately, Kozlov was pushed to the limits in his opener and even started to cramp during the closing stages of the match and collapsed. His serving stats were rather decent, as he won 63% and 52% of his first and second serve points respectively.

The American will need to up those numbers in his next match or he'll be under constant pressure as Nadal is a good returner.

Nadal is serving incredibly well and won 96% and 77% of his first and second serve points respectively against Kudla. Consequently, Kozlov will find it difficult to make any inroads on the Spaniard's serve.

The American also hasn't faced a player of Nadal's caliber before and might find it tough to counter his heavy forehand and overall game.

Kozlov put up quite the fight against Dimitrov and could challenge his next opponent as well. But Nadal should be able to withstand his efforts to advance further into the tournament.

Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in straight sets.

What is the foot injury that has troubled Rafael Nadal over the years? Check here

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