ACAPULCO, Mexico – Spain’s Rafael Nadal defeated Mischa Zverev of Germany 6-3, 6-3 on Wednesday at the Mexican Open’s round of 32.
In qualifying for the tournament’s round of 16, world No. 2 Nadal took a step closer to winning the title for the third time in his career.
“I am happy for the victory of course. It is never easy against Mischa, especially without competing for a while,” the 32-year-old said after his first match since his defeat in the Australian Open final in January.
“This tournament is hard and there are a lot of great players, so these kinds of matches can happen in the very early stages,” he added.
Nadal recovered from a slow first few minutes, especially on serve, against Zverev, who defended well in the early going.
Zverev held serve in the early stages of the second set before Mexican fans kept shouting “Vamos Rafa” to motivate the Spaniard.
The seventh game of the second set proved to be decisive, as Nadal proceeded to gain a service break for a 4-3 lead and did not look back from there.
Nadal is set next to square off against Nick Kyrgios of Australia, who won 6-3, 7-5 over Italy’s Andreas Seppi.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion won the title in Acapulco in 2005 and eight years later in 2013 but in 2017, he lost the final match to Sam Querrey of the United States.
The last time the Spaniard had seen court-time was in January at the Australian Open.
While Nadal played well in the Land Down Under, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic beat Nadal in the final 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 to clinch a record-breaking seventh Australian Open title.
Djokovic wrapped up the lopsided January victory in just two hours and four minutes which pundits considered a far cry from the classic 2012 Melbourne final where the Serbian and Spanish rivals struggled over the course of five hours and 53 minutes, an Open Grand Slam record for match length, all of which resulted in the Serbian winning in the fifth and final set his third Aussie Open final.
Seven years later, upon winning his seventh Grand Slam in Australia, Djokovic has become the most successful player at Melbourne, pulling ahead of Swiss great Roger Federer and Australian Roy Emmerson, both of whom won the tournament six times, and preventing Nadal from becoming the first man in the Open era, which began in 1968, to win each Grand Slam at least twice.
In other news, Spain’s David Ferrer emerged victorious at the Mexican Open over United States player Tennys Sandgren 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3) to advance into the round of 16, where he will take on Alexander Zverev of Germany who beat Australia’s Alexei Popyrin.
Spaniard Feliciano Lopez also did well, marching into the tournament’s round of 16 after beating Dusan Lajovic of Serbia.