Another day, another history-making performance from Rafael Nadal. This time, the history was of the personal variety following a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Stefan Kozlov at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC.
In his first tournament since winning a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam at the Australian Open, Nadal has improved to a career-best 12-0 start to the new season. Nadal started the 2014 season with 11 straight wins before losing to Stan Wawrinka in the Australian Open final.
After title runs at the Melbourne Summer Set and the Aussie Open, the Spaniard is seeking his third tour-level trophy of the season and the 91st of his legendary career. His path to the title could run through Daniil Medvedev, the man chasing the No. 1 ATP Ranking, should both win one more match and advance to the semi-finals.
After leading, 6-0, 4-1, in Wednesday’s match against Kozlov, Nadal found himself back on serve with his opponent two points from levelling the set.
“A little bit of a strange match,” Nadal assessed. “Kozlov has a different style than most other players, so you need to be very careful. Sometimes you are able to win points in a row, but then if you start to play at his rhythm, it’s very difficult because he has great control from the baseline and he’s very smart.”
Avoiding the sort of marathon match the Acapulco stadium court has become accustomed to in recent days, Nadal won the final seven points of the match to get through to the quarter-finals in just over an hour. The Spaniard was dominant on the return as he converted five of six break chances, winning more than half of his points against Kozlov’s first serve.
“Always it’s important to win as quick as possible,” Nadal added, “but the most important thing is to win. Tonight has been straight sets, that’s great news, and I’ll try to be ready for tomorrow again against a tough opponent.”
After beating Denis Kudla and Kozlov in the opening rounds, Nadal will face another American in Tommy Paul in the quarter-finals. Paul was a 7-6(6), 2-6, 7-5 winner over Dusan Lajovic earlier on Wednesday.
This one goes to 12 💪
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) February 24, 2022