Australian Open runner-up Rafael Nadal is in the finals of the 2017 Abierto Mexicano Telcel with a straight sets, 6-1, 6-2 win over Croat ace Marin Cilic in the semi-finals today. The Spaniard defeated World No. 8 Cilic in a clinical showing in just over an hour and 20 minutes.
Despite the one-sided scoreline, Cilic did put up a spirited fight at the ATP500 event, managing 6 aces in the match to Nadal’s 3.
Nadal, currently ranked World No. 6, is a two-time champion in Acapulco, having won the title in 2005 and 2013; he is currently on a 3-year drought in terms of hard-court titles. The Spaniard made the finals of the year-opening Grand Slam last month, going down in a classic battle to arch-rival Roger Federer, and last won a hardcourt title at the ATP Doha event in January 2014.
Next up for Nadal is the winner of the match between Australian ‘bad boy’ Nick Kyrgios and big-serving American Sam Querrey. Novak Djokovic, the top seed and frontrunner for this title, lost in the quarter-finals yesterday to a powerful, quick Kyrgios, flummoxed by his shot placement.
Interestingly, Querrey is the man responsible for Djokovic’s early exit from Wimbledon 2016, leaving the Serb, then World No. 1, unable to defend his title. That Querrey win, perhaps, was the beginning of Djokovic’s drop in the rankings.
Although it may seem likely that we will see a Nadal-Kyrgios final, the Australian has a history of following up big wins with tanking, or lackluster performances.
A win here in Acapulco will be valuable for Nadal in terms of positivity going into the Indian Wells-Miami combine, where he will play both the singles and doubles, partnering Australia’s Bernard Tomic in the latter.
Elsewhere at the ATP500 Dubai Duty Free championships, World No. 1 Andy Murray has set up a final against Spanish giant-killer Fernando Verdasco; the Spaniard was responsible for ousting his countryman, Rafael Nadal from the 2016 Australian Open. This time, Verdasco has defeated two seeded players – No. 6 seed Roberto Bautista Agut and No. 4, Gael Monfils from the tournament.Published 04 Mar 2017, 09:52 IST