Rafael Nadal said that facing Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinal of the Mexican Tennis Open would be a test to see if he was close to his best. Judging from the result, he approved.
The Spanish, world number two and top seed in Mexico, accounted for the Bulgarian 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday to reach the Acapulco final for the fourth time in his career.
“The game sounds like it was comfortable and it wasn’t, they are small details that make the difference and that’s how tennis is,” said Nadal. “It was a good game, I have gone from less to more in the tournament and it is important to be in a final after a while without competing.”
Nadal was monarch in the Mexican resort in 2005 and in 2013, when the tournament is played on clay. Since the switch to hard surfaces, he hadn’t had a good time, including a defeat in the 2017 final and his elimination in the round of 16 last year.
Nadal, who put his record in Mexico at 19-2, arrived with doubts about his level because he had not played since the Australian Open, where he lost in the quarterfinals to Austrian Dominic Thiem.
“It gives a good feeling to be in a final after losing in the Australian quarterfinals, it’s a boost of morale,” added the 33-year-old Mallorcan, who is now 13-1 against Dimitrov. “I’m happy because I beat a good friend and one of the best players in the world.”
In Acapulco he also dispatched his compatriot Pablo Andújar, the Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic and the Korean Soonwoo Kwon without losing a single set to advance to the final, where he will measure forces with the American Taylor Fritz, who came back to surprise his compatriot John Isner.
It will be the first duel between the two.
“A heavy day is coming because today I lost a lot of fluid and Frizt is at a high level and has a great projection,” added Nadal. “It is going to be a difficult game with maximum difficulty. He hits the ball very hard and I must be prepared to make him hit from awkward positions. “
Fritz gave up the first set and trailed 2-4 in the second, but ended up winning 2-6, 7-5, 6-3.
“It’s hard to come back when you go down against John,” declared Fritz. “I’m honest, I was lucky with my break in the second set and I was able to come back, but I don’t know how it happened. The triumph gives me confidence for what is to come ”.
It was Fritz’s first win against Isner, who he had failed to beat in three previous games. He won the only title of his record in Eastbourne, Great Britain, in June of last year.
Fritz is looking to become the second American to be crowned at the Mexican Open after Sam Querrey in 2017.
ZARAZÚA’S DREAM ENDS
In women, Canadian Leylah Fernández ended Renata Zarazúa’s dream of being the first Mexican finalist in her country’s tournament by winning 6-3, 6-3.
Fernández, just 17 years old, advanced to the first final of his fledgling career. There she will meet Britain’s Heather Watson, who dispatched China’s Xiyu Wang 6-4, 7-6 (6).
Zarazúa, 22, was the first Mexican to reach the semifinals of the tournament, which has been held continuously since 1993.
Before Zarazúa, the best result for a local tennis player was the quarterfinals for Melissa Torres in 2007.
Watson, 27, and seventh seed in Acapulco, is going for the fourth title of her career, the first since 2016, when Monterrey, in northern Mexico, was also crowned. The Brit hadn’t reached a final since Tianjin, China, last year.
In the women’s field, the Mexican Tennis Open distributes a purse of $ 251,000 and 250 points, while in men, 1,789,000 dollars and 500 points are distributed.
The tournament is played on the hard courts of the Mextenis complex, in the Mundo Imperial resort of the city. AP