Top seed Rafael Nadal has eased to the Mexico Open title with a dominant 73-minute performance in the final on Sunday against world No. 35 Taylor Fritz.
The 19-time grand slam champion withstood 10 aces fired from Fritz to prevail 6-3, 6-2. Completing his near perfect performance at this year’s tournament where he didn’t drop a set en route to the title. On average Nadal lost five games per match. Against Fritz, Nadal was unbroken throughout the encounter as he hit 14 winners against eight unforced errors. Furthermore, he also dropped just five points behind his first serve.
“Winning in Acapulco is always special because of the closeness to the tournament and the people. It’s an important title in an important moment, I didn’t start the year as good as I wanted, but I got better, I came into the tournament a little bit saturated because I didn’t get a lot of rest and this was a week to build my confidence. I leave with my objective cleared, I’m very happy, I want to enjoy this and get ready for Indian Well,” said Nadal.
It was at the Mexican Open where he won his first ATP International Series Gold title back in 2005. Commonly known now as an ATP 500 event. His record in Acapulco now stands at 20 wins against two losses. Those who have defeated him, Sam Querrey in 2017 and Nick Kyrgios in 2018, both went on to win the title that year. It is the first time Nadal has won the tournament since it switched from clay to hard courts and it is his third overall.
Despite his recent triumph, the 33-year-old is staying grounded about what the future may have in store for him on the tour. He is currently locked in a battle with Novak Djokovic for the world No.1 spot. Djokovic won the Dubai Open this week.
“This doesn’t mean it’s going to be a good year; it only gives me confidence and lets me be in a privileged position”, he commented on his latest achievement.
It is the 17th year in a row that Nadal has won a title on the ATP Tour and 85th in total. In the Open Era, only Ivan Lendl, Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors have won titles than him. He is also the oldest player to win in Mexico as well as being the youngest.
”He’s one of the best players to ever play the game and he showed me why that is tonight,” runner-up Fritz said in tribute to his rival. “This is one of my favourite tournaments to come to every year. I’m just glad that I could have a good week at one of my favourite events. I felt a lot of love all week.”
Despite his highly decorated career, Nadal doesn’t want to be remembered for what he has won. Speaking to reporters in his press conference, he said he wants his legacy to be more meaningful.
“In the future, I do not want to be remembered as a tennis player who won numerous titles, but to have left a good example for boys and girls. This is my only objective, then winning or losing is part of the sport in general. If one thing I wish I could say that I have done well is that I have transmitted positive things on and off a track and that makes me very satisfied on my part,” he said.
Nadal will trail Djokovic by 370 points in the world rankings when they are updated on Monday. Both players will return to action in a couple weeks time at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
Alexander Zverev Powers Past Erratic Nadal To Set Thiem Showdown
Alexander Zverev secured his best win of his career on a clay court by beating Rafael Nadal in Madrid.
Alexander Zverev powered past an erratic Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-3 to reach the semi-finals in Madrid.
After a slow start Zverev produced some stunning tennis to knock out the five-time champion Nadal, who had an error-prone day at the office.
The German will now play Dominic Thiem in the last four in a rematch from the 2018 final.
It was the 20-time grand slam champion who started off the fastest as he looked to target the Zverev forehand early with uncomfortable spins and heights.
Eventually Nadal would get his rewards for an accurate tactical game-plan as a Zverev double fault handed him the break.
However that advantage was to be short-lived as the first point of the seventh game would change the momentum of the match with Nadal putting in simple unforced errors especially on the forehand side.
The German took advantage as he used his backhand to dictate points from the baseline. Furthermore, Zverev used his superior net play to his advantage by shortening the points and creating a faster tempo.
An unusual first set from Nadal’s perspective was complete as the fifth seed reeled off four games in a row to seal the opening set 6-4.
At the start of the second set, the Spaniard tried to up his level and intensity as he used some drop-shots at unexpected moments and attempted to bring the crowd into the match.
Despite this Nadal’s return game was lacking its usual ferocity as he couldn’t capitalise on Zverev’s second serves.
There was a lack of confidence in the Spaniard when implementing effective patterns of play as Zverev had a lot of success dictating play and winning the baseline and net rallies.
Another break in the fifth game ensured that Zverev’s dominance was being rewarded.
Although a double break advantage was denied, Nadal couldn’t deny victory for Zverev as the German sealed his first clay court victory over the ‘King of Clay.’
After the match Zverev admitted it was one of the biggest wins of his career, “Definitely one of the biggest wins of my career so far, especially on clay against Rafa. It is the toughest thing to do in our sport,” Zverev said in an on-court interview.
“Beating him in his house, in Spain, is incredible but the tournament is not over yet.”
Lots to ponder for Nadal as an error-prone performance sees him looking to improve in Rome next week.
As for the German, he sets up a 2018 final rematch with Dominic Thiem in the last four as he secured his best victory on this surface of his career.
Dominic Them reaches semifinal in Madrid after three-set battle with Isner
Dominic Thiem is into the Madrid semi-finals after an impressive three set win over John Isner.
The Austrian booked his spot in the semifinals after coming back to beat the American in three sets.
Dominic Thiem needed one hour and 55 minutes to beat the world number 39 John Isner in three sets 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 hitting 20 winners in the win while his opponent hit 26 unforced errors.
“We all know that he is one of the best servers in history and this altitude in Madrid makes it even tougher to return his serve but I was a little bit surprised by his return games, I think he attacked both my first and second serves and it took me a while to get used to it and I think the match changed when I saved those three breakpoints in the second set”.
It was the American who got off to the faster start holding his opening service game and then going on the offensive earning a breakpoint the following game and taking an early 2-0 lead.
The Greensboro, North Carolina native had a chance to go up a double break but the world number four saved both breakpoints he faced and managed to hold his first service game of the match.
That break was enough for the American to serve out the first set and he was one set away from the semifinals.
The second set stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Dallas, Texas resident had four breakpoints but failed to convert and the match was starting to turn with the American looking gassed.
In the next game the Austrian had three breakpoint and converted for his first break of the match as he served out the second set to send it to a deciding third set.
Isner was put under pressure early in the third set facing a breakpoint in the first game of the set but managed to save it and hold serve and it stayed on serve until 4-4.
That’s when the world number four earned two chances to break and on the second time of asking he would break and served out the match to book a date with either Alexander Zverev or Rafael Nadal.
After his match in an on court interview he gave this thoughts on a potential matchup with either Nadal or Zverev.
“It’s going to be a good one, I’ve played two big matches here against Rafa ( Nadal) and one big match against Sascha ( Zverev), and against either one of them it’s going to be an incredible challenge and it’s going to be exciting tomorrow”.
With the loss today by Isner when the new rankings come out on Monday it will be the first time in the open era and since the rankings came out that an American will not feature in the top 30 players in the world.
Past Cancellation Of Clay Events ‘Double Motivation’ For Norway’s Casper Ruud
The 22-year-old is on a roll after scoring his biggest win yet over Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Madrid Open.
Last year’s decision to scrap a series of clay events due to the COVID-19 pandemic was a huge blow to the world of tennis but at the same time a blessing in disguise for Casper Ruud.
The world No.22 is enjoying a surge in his form on the Tour after reaching back-to-back semi-finals at the Monte Carlo Masters and Munich Open. Furthermore, this week at the Madrid Open Ruud achieved the biggest win of his career on Thursday after stunning Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(4), 6-4. Registering his first ever win over a top five player on the Tour. He is yet to drop a set in the tournament.
Ruud partly credits his success on the clay to events that happened 12 months ago when he was unable to play on his favourite surface due to the pandemic. The French Open did take place but later in the year where he reached the third round.
“It was a part of the season last year that I was looking extremely forward to. I felt it was taken a bit away from not me but all the players when everything got postponed, some of the tournaments were cancelled,” Ruud said after his win over Tsitsipas.
“I think I just kept my motivation for a year and have double the motivation to be here this year luckily.’
“This (Madrid) was one of the tournaments that we didn’t get to play last year. I’m just trying to enjoy the moment and take care of the chances that I get.”
Growing up, the youngster trained at the Rafa Nadal Academy and says his time there has shaped how he plays today. Toni Nadal, who is the former mentor of Rafael Nadal, remains ‘involved’ in his tennis. Although the 60-year-old is now switching his focus to working with Felix Auger-Aliassime. Pedro Clar, who he met at the academy, is still a member of his team.
“Pedro Clar is the one that travels more often with me. We have a very good relationship. He’s here (in Madrid) this week,” said Ruud.
“He’s been with me at some of my biggest tournaments and wins. When I won my first tournament in Buenos Aires, my first semifinal in Rome last year, Pedro was with me. I think it’s helped me a lot.’
“Also getting help from Toni. Now Toni is helping Felix more personally. But he’s always involved with my tennis at some point in my career. Also Rafa, of course, he helped me a lot the last years.”
The next test for Ruud in Madrid will be Alexander Bublik who he beat in three sets in their only previous meeting back in 2019. Should he win again, the world No.22 would be through to his third consecutive Masters semi-final on the clay after Rome (2020) and Monte Carlo.
At the age of 22, Ruud has already become the highest ranked Norwegian player in ATP Tour history. Coincidentally the record was previously held by his father Christian who now his head coach. Following his latest win, he is set to break into the world’s top 20 for the first time on Monday.
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