Rafael Nadal defeated Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-3 on Friday to reach the final of the ATP Mexico Open and ensure the Russian will not celebrate his rise to number one with the Acapulco trophy. Medvedev was unable to avenge his loss to Nadal in the Australian Open final, where the Spaniard rallied down two sets to win in five and claim a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title. But the 26-year-old Russian is leaving Mexico knowing that he will move to the number one in the world on Monday. He was assured of reaching the top when Serbian star Novak Djokovic fell in the quarter-finals in Dubai on Thursday.
Nadal pushed his perfect 2022 record to 14-0, but it wasn’t as easy as the deficit would suggest.
He drove through the first set without hitting a breakpoint and broke Medvedev in the opening game of the second.
But the 35-year-old world number five ran into trouble in the fourth game, fighting off four breakpoints to maintain his lead.
Medvedev again pushed him into a marathon sixth game, but failed to convert any of his seven break chances.
“I played some great points on the breakpoints,” said Nadal, who used everything in his arsenal to fend off Medvedev — from his classic powerful forehands to aggressive attacks on the net.
“The second set was very emotional,” said Nadal. “Daniil played very aggressively – drop shots, winners. It was a very difficult set.
“I’m lucky to win that set, because he had a lot of chances.”
By serving to extend the game at 5-3, Medvedev took a 40-0 lead before a spate of errors, including his seventh double of the game, gave Nadal an opening and allowed him to finish it off. on his second match point.
In Saturday’s final, Nadal will face Cameron Norrie, who pushed his winning streak to eight consecutive games with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Great Britain’s twelfth-placed Norrie, who took home the trophy at Delray Beach last week, broke in the ninth game of each set and served them calmly.
Tsitsipas, who reached the Rotterdam final earlier this month, hadn’t dropped a set all week until he faced the in-form Brit – who got just one break point in the match.
Nadal has won all three of his career meetings with Norrie – at the Australian Open, Barcelona and Roland Garros in 2021.
But he said Norrie has made great strides since then.
“His level of tennis is tremendous,” said Nadal. “He improved a lot at the beginning of last year and he will continue this year.
“It’s going to be a big challenge, but we’re in the final of a 500 here in Acapulco, so we can’t expect an easy opponent. I’m looking forward to being in the final.”
Nadal is looking for a fourth Acapulco title. He won his first two, in 2005 and 2013, when the tournament was played on clay, and added a third in 2020 after moving to hard courts.
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