Rafael Nadal has stormed into the semifinal of the ATP 500 event in Acapulco. He defeated new men’s world number one Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-3 in a rematch of their Australian Open final.
They had their previous meeting in Melbourne last month. Nadal had to come back from two sets behind to win a men’s record 21st major singles victory. But it was Nadal who made a strong start in Mexico. In his first service game, Nadal forced him to hold a pair of breakpoints. But Nadal broke minutes later to gain a 3-1 lead, which he maintained to win the first set 6-3.
When a sloppy opening service game handed one of the game’s all-time frontrunners another lead, things started to spiral for the soon-to-be World No. 1. But, despite the odds, Medvedev came close to tying the game when he created four break chances at 2-1. While he didn’t get the break, he firmly re-entered the race when it appeared Nadal was about to pull away. At 3-2, that dramatic six-deuce game was beaten by a nine-deuce game.
With his back against the wall, Nadal was brilliant. He saved seven breakpoints in a row. He came through with flying colors as he went through his entire arsenal. Nadal saved breakpoints with equal parts aggression and patience, and frequently closing points at the net after punishing serves.
Nadal appeared to continue his winning streak into the second set. He broke serve early to take a 1-0 lead. But, as the set went, Medvedev came into the match. He began to cause the Spanish all kinds of issues with his backhand drop shot.
In the second set, Medvedev gained 11 breakpoints in only two of Nadal’s service games. But the Australian Open champion fought back to hold serve both times. Under pressure, Nadal’s serve knocked the wind out of Medvedev’s sails. The Russian was broken once more when an errant backhand error gave his opponent the victory
Nadal said, “I played some amazing points on the breakpoints, The second set was very emotional. Daniil was playing very aggressively, drop shots, winners. The set was very difficult. I feel lucky to win that set because he had a lot of chances.”
In Saturday’s final, Rafael Nadal will defend his 14-match winning streak against Cameron Norrie’s eight. In the 2021 season, Nadal has a 3-0 head-to-head record, having won all three sets in straight sets.
Norrie, the sixth seed, beat world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 18 minutes to deny Tsitsipas a second consecutive final appearance in Acapulco.