Nadal again came out on top, with the 6-3, 6-3 scoreline hiding the drama that unfolded over the course of two hours at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC.
If the Aussie Open final was a tale of two halves, so too was this one. Only Nadal won both in Mexico.
After a dominant opening set, the Spaniard saved 11 break points across two consecutive service games to hang on to an early lead in the second. With the win, he improves to 14-0 on the season, extending his career-best start.
“I played some amazing points on the break points,” said Nadal, who noted that the high bounce on the stadium court helped his game. “The second set was very emotional. Daniil was playing very aggressive — drop shots, winners. It was a very difficult set. I feel lucky to win that set because he had a lot of chances.”
Nadal picked up where he left off in Melbourne with a classy start, controlling the baseline and putting Medvedev under pressure in each of the Russian’s first three service games. Sensing Nadal’s dominance, the top seed mixed up his game with drop shots and serve-and-volley tactics, doing well to stay within touching distance.
After breaking in the fourth game, Nadal escaped 0/30 to open up a 4-1 lead. Medvedev got another look at 5-3, 30/30, but found himself a set down after two bad misses.
Things started to spiral for the soon-to-be World No. 1, as a loose opening service game handed one of the game’s all-time frontrunners another lead.
But against the run of play, Medvedev nearly levelled as he created four break chances at 2-1. While he didn’t get the break, he got himself firmly back in contention when it looked like Nadal was set to pull away.
That epic six-deuce game was trumped by a nine-deuce game at 3-2. An incredible seven break points came and went as Nadal was sensational with his back against the wall. He survived in style as he went through his full arsenal, saving break points with equal parts aggression and patience, frequently closing points at the net following punishing serves and forehands.
With the win Nadal, improves to 5-1 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series.
Nadal is a three-time champion in Acapulco (2005, 2013, 2020), with his first two titles coming when the event was still played on clay. He improves to 24-2 at the ATP 500 event, and has now won 18 sets in a row dating back to his 2020 triumph.
One winning streak will end in Saturday’s final, as Nadal puts his 14-match run on the line against Cameron Norries eight. Nadal leads that head-to-head 3-0, winning all three in straight sets in the 2021 season (Australian Open, Barcelona, Roland Garros).
“His level of tennis is huge. He improved a lot at the beginning of last year, and this year he continues,” Nadal said of his final opponent, who knocked off third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, 6-4, 6-4, earlier on Friday.
“It’s going to be a big challenge, but we are in the final of a 500 here in Acapulco, so cant expect an easy opponent. I’m excited about being in the final.”