World number two Rafael Nadal stepped up his bid for a third ATP Mexico Open title with an impressive display of serving and shotmaking to beat Serbian youngster Miomir Kecmanovic on Wednesday.
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The Spaniard hit 20 winners as he kept his hopes alive of regaining the top ranking with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over the 20-year-old Kecmanovic to reach the quarter-finals at the Acapulco hardcourt tournament.
“He’s a very dangerous player. Young, with a lot of power. I’m very pleased with the victory,” Nadal said.
“I played a very good first set and that’s important for me. That gives me confidence.”
Next up for Nadal is Kwon Soon-woo, who reached his fourth quarter-final of the month with a 7-6 (7/2), 6-0 upset against eighth-seeded Dusan Lajovic.
South Korea’s Kwon also reached the last eight in Pune, New York and Delray Beach.
Nadal improved to 17-2 overall at this event. He needs to take the Acapulco title and have Novak Djokovic lose his semi-final match at this week’s Dubai Tennis Championships to regain top spot.
Nadal roared to a 5-0 lead in the first set thanks to some superb serving and clutch winners.
In the second set, Nadal broke the Serb for a 5-3 lead but Kecmanovic broke back in the next game and held serve to level the set at 5-5.
Nadal, who made 17 unforced errors, clinched the match on the first match point when Kecmanovic blasted a forehand return well wide.
– Zverev out –
Elsewhere in the last 16, world number seven Alexander Zverev was knocked out by 22-year-old US qualifier Tommy Paul 6-3, 6-4.
The second seed German failed to convert four break points and made 10 double-faults as Paul claimed the first top 10 victory of his career.
The other quarter-finals feature third seeded Stan Wawrinka against Grigor Dimitrov, Taylor Fritz versus Kyle Edmund, and fifth seed John Isner against Paul.
Feb 27, 2020