Ferrer in fine fettle; Nadal to face Almagro test
Acapulco, a resort town on the pacific coast of Mexico is awash in a refreshing tide of tennis brought along by some of the finest dirt ballers on the planet. With the golden swing assuming even more significance this year due to the return to action of Rafael Nadal there is more than the normal level of attention on the Albiert0 Mexicano Telcel. The next two days promise to be a true indicator of the level at which Nadal is playing as he faces his most meaningful test since his comeback at Vina del Mar earlier this month.
As usual David Ferrer continued to impress with his tireless consistency as he eased his way into the semi-finals with a clinical 6-3, 6-1 victory over Paolo Lorenzi. He will need to put it past another Italian, Fabio Fognini as he marches ahead in his quest for an impressive fourth straight title in this ATP World Tour 500 event. The other semi-final promises to be a treat – the two time (2008 & ’09) champion Nicholas Almagro is looking for a first career victory over his legendary compatriot and he might have a better opportunity to notch up his first win in nine meetings against the most successful clay court player ever.
Almagro needed an hour an 10 minutes to get past the Vina del Mar winner Horacio Zeballos with an uncomplicated 6-3, 6-4 victory. Nadal was equally fluent against another Argentine, seeing off a late challenge from Leonardo Mayer to advance to the last four of a tournament he won in 2005 around the time he was planting himself firmly as the world’s premier clay court exponent. The world No. 5 needed an hour and 42 minutes to eclipse Mayer 6-1, 7-5 and reach his third semi-final in four weeks since returning from a seven month hiatus.
The third seeded Almagro took the first set point of the match in the sixth game to get ahead 4-2 over Zeballos. The Argentine fought hard to save all three set points in the eighth game, but could not prevent the Spaniard from serving out the set in just 26 minutes. Almagro had two opportunities to nail an early break in the second set, but Zeballos held steady to avert the break in the first game. The decisive break eventually came in the seventh game when Almgro won four straight points from 40-15. The job was done when Almagro served out the tenth game to close the match on his first opportunity.
Nadal was hot off the blocks breaking twice to take a 4-0 lead. Mayer escaped embarassment when he finally held his own in the fifth game, but the Spaniard sealed the set with another break in the seventh game. The second set turned out to be far more competitive with Mayer settling down to a rhythm with his ground strokes to engage Nadal in prolonged rallies. The Argentine even enjoyed a couple of break points in the third game, but Nadal produced a couple of aces at the right time to keep the set on serve. Neither man got close enough to a break subsequently till the ninth game when Mayer was serving to stay in the match at 4-5.
Nadal struck a brilliant backhand winner to earn his first match point, but the Argentine was equal to the task as he pulled out a service winner at just the right time. Even as a breaker loomed, Mayer wilted under the pressure of serving again to stay in the contest at 5-6 falling quickly to 15-40 after throwing in a double fault. The Argentine saved the first with a forehand volley, but flailed a forehand long on the next point to succumb to Nadal.
(1) D Ferrer defeats P Lorenzi 63 61
(3) N Almagro defeats (8) H Zeballos 63 64
(2) R Nadal defeats L Mayer 61 75
F Fognini defeats S Giraldo 75 64
S Bolelli / F Fognini defeats J Cabal / R Farah 62 64
T Bellucci / P Lorenzi defeats (4) J Melzer / P Petzschner 64 46 10-8
(2) L Kubot / D Marrero defeats D Bracciali / L Dlouhy 62 76(1)
(1) A Peya / B Soares defeats F Cermak / M Mertinak 64 61