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Acapulco Tennis Championships: Rafael Nadal vs Mischa Zverev, Preview and Prediction

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703   //    26 Feb 2019, 16:31 IST

Rafael
Rafael Nadal

The top seed Rafael Nadal makes his much-awaited return after the Australian Open at the Mexican Open and his first round opponent will be another left-hander, Misha Zverev.

The two have met each other twice in the past, both on hard courts and the German is yet to take a set off the Spanish superstar. One of those wins came at the same venue two years ago and Nadal had little difficulty in dispatching Zverev.

Nadal is a two-time champion at Acapulco. He won here in 2005 and 2013. But both those titles came when the matches were played on his favorite surface – clay. Since 2014, the tournament is being played on the hard courts. Nadal has not won here since then, though he reached the final stage in 2017 where he lost to Sam Querrey in straight sets.

Though Nadal is not considered as strong on hard courts as on clay, he is still better than most players. His multiple Grand Slam and Masters wins on hard courts points at how big a force he is on hard courts too.

He has played only one tournament – the Australian Open – earlier this year since he bowed out at the semi-final stage in last year’s US Open. But his return to tennis on possibly his least favorite surface was nothing short of sensational.

With a remodeled serve and attacking tennis, he reached the finals of the Australian Open without losing a single set. Though he lost to Novak Djokovic in the finals in straight sets, he did enough in the tournament to suggest that he was back to peak form and fitness.

Mischa Zverev at 2019 Australian Open - Day 2
Mischa Zverev at 2019 Australian Open - Day 2

That is certainly not good news for his opponents, especially someone like Zverev, who is not in the best of form in recent times. He lost in the first round of the Australian Open to Alexei Popyrin in straight sets, after which he has not played any competitive tennis.

Could Zverev win his first match of 2019, and that too against Nadal? Everything seems to suggest that the answer is in the negative. But if Zverev plays a solid serve and volley game, then he may yet have some sort of chance.

Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in Straight Sets.

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