Rafael Nadal demonstrated in Mexico that the most important part of a tennis match is how you finish it. The top-seeded Majorcan swiftly recovered from an early deficit by winning 12 of the last 15 games to defeat fellow Spaniard Pablo Andujar 6-3, 6-2 in first-round action at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in Acapulco.
Nadal remained flawless (4-0) in his ATP Head2Head series with Andujar and improved to 16-2 at this event.
The two-time Acapulco champion (2005, 2013) also kept alive the possibility of regaining the top spot in the FedEx ATP Rankings. If Nadal takes the title this week, Novak Djokovic must reach the semi-finals at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships to remain World No. 1 on Monday.
Awaiting the Majorcan in the next round is Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, who won an all-#NextGenATP battle on Monday against Aussie Alex de Minaur.
Nadal began the match by dropping serve in the opening game and struggled to find the range on his forehand. But even though he was missing shots early on, the top seed still held full control of the tempo in their baseline rallies.
The top seed quickly broke back and went on a five-game run as he pushed Andujar around the court. Andujar bravely saved three set points on his serve at 2-5, but Nadal comfortably held in the next game and took the early advantage. The second set proved to be one-way traffic for Nadal. He opened proceedings by breaking Andujar with a crushing forehand winner and never lost the lead, eventually closing out play after one hour and 32 minutes. Nadal finished the day with 26 winners to 23 unforced errors.
Seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov wasted no time getting down to business and powered past Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia-Herzegovina 6-3, 6-3 to reach the second round.
“Amazing crowd out here. It’s a very special tournament for me,” Dimitrov said in his on-court interview. “I was glad to get it going again as I haven’t played in a while and am happy to get that first win.”
The Bulgarian won 92 per cent of his first-serve points (24/26) and broke Dzumhur three times to advance in 74 minutes. Dimitrov now looks for his first quarter-final of the season when he meets Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in the next round.
Spanish qualifier Pedro Martinez continued his outstanding form with a convincing 6-3, 6-2 victory over Moldovan Radu Albot. The 22-year-old entered this season having never won a tour-level match, but has prevailed in all five of his opening-round matches this year. Next up for Martinez is a second-round clash with third-seeded Swiss Stan Wawrinka. Soonwoo Kwon outlasted Japanese lucky loser Taro Daniel 6-2, 2-6, 6-3. The 22-year-old South Korean sits at a career-high ranking of No. 76 after reaching three quarter-finals this month in Pune, New York and Delray Beach.