Can Rafael Nadal be stopped in Acapulco? The top-seeded Majorcan produced his best performance of the week at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, cruising past rising South Korean Soonwoo Kwon 6-2, 6-1 in their quarter-final clash.
Nadal has dropped just 15 games across his first three rounds this week, improving with each match as his powerful baseline game rounded into top form. The 33-year-old moved closer to his third title in Acapulco (2005, 2013) and improved to 18-2 at this event.
”The match has been much tougher than what the result said. I think it was a beautiful match to see,” Nadal said.
“It was a good match against a tough opponent. I think he’s going to have a very good tennis career.” Kwon reached four consecutive quarter-finals this month, including his first at an ATP 500 event in Acapulco.
The South Korean refused to be intimidated by facing Nadal, leaning into powerful backhands and hanging with the Majorcan in their baseline rallies.
But while Kwon kept the games close, he didn’t have to much to show for it on the scoreboard.
Nadal started the match in full flight, breaking Kwon with a powerful forehand winner for a 3-1 lead. The top seed hammered 11 winners to just four unforced errors in the opening set, pushing Kwon around the court to grab the early advantage.
The South Korean had plenty of chances to jump in front during the second set. Kwon held seven game points across the first three games, all of which went to multiple deuces. But every time he held a game point, Nadal erased it with clean hitting. Kwon was left wondering what he needed to do after the Majorcan pulled himself to a 3-0 lead.
Nadal’s one-way traffic continued after he grabbed an insurance break at 4-1 and closed out play after one hour and 31 minutes. He finished the night with 25 winners to 11 unforced errors and saved all eight break points he faced.
Next up for Nadal is Grigor Dimitrov, who dismissed third seed Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-4 earlier in the evening. The 2014 champion snapped a five-match losing streak against the Swiss, closing the gap (5-7) in their ATP Head2Head and improving to 11-2 at this event.
”(Dimitro)] finished last year much better than how he had played the rest of that year. He started to play some good tennis and is showing it here, winning some very good matches,” Nadal said.
“I’m going to need my best and I hope I’m ready to make it happen.”
Dimitrov has continued to overcome mental hurdles this week, saving two match points and snapping a four-match losing streak in final-set tie-breaks to defeat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino on Wednesday. The 28-year-old moved to 7-4 this season and is through to his first semi-final of the year.
“I’ve played quite a few times against Stan and we’ve practised together so many times. Between us, it’s mainly a mental battle,” Dimitrov said.