Acapulco Contenders: Nadal Faces Tough Competition

Rafael Nadal Acapulco

The Acapulco Open is playing host to a number of top ten players, as the road hard court season is in full swing. The first round draw has brought out some tasty affairs as the fans in Mexico will be in for a tennis treat. Here are four contenders for the title in Acapulco.

Diego Schwartzman

The Argentine enters Acapulco full of confidence after winning his first ATP title of the year last week in Rio. His first round draw is a rematch of the final, as Schwartzman will look to defeat Fernando Verdasco for the second time in just a couple of days.

The 5’7 right-hander will have to be at his best to reach the latter stages of the draw with a number of talented players on his side of the route to the final. The world #15 has been in mixed form this season, despite winning a clay court title a few days ago. The 25-year-old lost both his first matches in straight sets in Brisbane and Sydney hard courts.

A round-of-16 appearance at the Australian Open, losing to Rafael Nadal, looked to turn his season around. A week later in his hometown, Buenos Aires, he made it to the quarter-final before a shock defeat to Aljaz Bedene.

Schwartzman has only won two titles in his career and prefers a clay court. However, Acapulco may throw up a surprise and he could easily reach the latter stages.
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Alexander Zverev

The talented youngster is the second seed in Acapulco this week, but that does not mean he is guaranteed to reach the final. A tough opening match against world #47 Steve Johnson will show what mood Zverev is in.

The German has only played nine matches so far this year, two coming in the Davis Cup. A third-round defeat to Hyeon Chung raised a few eyebrows as to whether the 20-year-old could cut it on the big stage. Meanwhile, a second-round exit in Rotterdam to experienced Andreas Seppi shows the youngster has much to learn yet.

However, the 6’6 world number #5 cannot be ruled out of winning the Acapulco Open. Zverev has the game to take the title, it is just whether he takes it out on the court.
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Dominic Thiem

The world #6 has been in impressive form this season. A semi-final appearance in Doha on the hard court set the standard Thiem is looking for this year. In the Australian Open, he lost to surprise package Tennys Sandgren in the round of 16, but soon banished memories of that defeat in Buenos Aires. The 24-year-old took the clay-court title without losing a set in the tournament.

In Rio last week, he lost in the quarter-final to Fernando Verdasco, but the Austrian will be looking for revenge should the two meet in the semi-final in Acapulco.

Thiem’s first match is against qualifier Cameron Norrie, where a victory in straight sets will be expected. His second round match will show whether the 6’1 Austrian means business though, with either Kei Nishikori or Denis Shapovalov awaiting him.

Thiem is open to a surprise defeat but should make the semi-final at least or take the title as he did in 2016.
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Rafael Nadal

The favourite by a mile, but that doesn’t mean Nadal will walk away with the Acapulco open trophy. The world number #2 has only played the Australian Open this year, where he lost in the quarter-final to Marin Cilic. At 31, Nadal is past his best and is selective about the tournaments he enters.

The hard court of Acapulco is not his favourite but that hasn’t stopped him from winning it twice, back in 2013 and 2005. Fellow Spaniard David Ferrer has also won the title an impressive four times.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion only needs to be at a fraction of his best to win his first title of the tour. Nadal’s side of the draw is favourable as well, with the hardest opponent likely to be Sam Querrey in the semi-final.

If Nadal does not win the Acapulco Open it will be a shock to the tennis world, but he isn’t at his best and anything can happen.

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