Something had to give in the Acapulco final between Rafael Nadal and Cameron Norrie, with each man entering with a variety of personal winning streaks on the line.
In hot and humid conditions, Nadal didn’t give up an inch in a 6-4, 6-4 win. The Abierto Mexicano Telcel title presented by HSBC is the 91st of Nadal’s career and his fourth in Acapulco.
“It’s always been a very special place,” Nadal said of the host city. “The energy that Mexicans bring to me is very unique.”
The result brings a winning conclusion to the latest chapter in the 35-year-old’s comeback after a left foot injury sidelined him for the final five months of 2021. It’s a story Nadal himself feared never to write, such was the discomfort. caused by an injury that he believes cannot be repaired, only managed.
Fresh off a dominating win over future world number one Daniil Medvedev, Nadal extended his best career start in an ATP Tour season to 15-0. Just like he did in 2020 in Acapulco, he won the title without dropping a set. Nadal has now won 13 consecutive sets since the Australian Open and 20 in a row in Acapulco.
The win was also an 11th consecutive ATP Tour Finals; it was Nadal’s 128th appearance in a title match. Following this week’s results, he is expected to move up one spot to No. 4 in the ATP rankings on Monday.
“I went through very difficult moments during the game which I was able to salvage, then I took advantage when I had chances,” said Nadal, who is both the youngest and the oldest champion of the event.
“I’m very happy. It was a very important title for me, so I couldn’t be happier.”
Norrie saw an eight-game winning streak after her title at Delray Beach last week.
– Tennis TV (@TennisTV) February 27, 2022
The Briton did very little harm in the opening set, but Nadal grabbed a trio of misfires in the fifth game to create the only break point of the set. He took charge there, landing a forehand passing to land the first real shot of the contest.
“Cameron is a very solid player, a tricky player,” Nadal said after the game. “He makes you feel like you can’t comfortably play against him at all.”
Nadal completed a remarkable 89% (24/27) of his first serves in the first set, winning 79% (19/24) of those points. He finished with those numbers at 79 and 71 percent for the game.
Just like he did after winning the first set against Medvedev in the semis, Nadal scored an instant break to take the lead in the second.
But in the next match, a streak ended for Nadal: a streak of 16 consecutive break points saved, dating back to his quarter-final win over Tommy Paul. Norrie got his first break points of the match at 0/40, and after Nadal erased those three chances, Norrie buckled in a 20-ball rally to take a fourth for 1-1.
Undeterred after falling 1-2 behind, Nadal clawed back the advantage, then some by winning four games in a row to put himself on the brink of Acapulco glory.
The second time he asked, he served the title tilt after a sublime pickup volley brought match point.
Nadal has now booked his record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open along with two others, starting with an ATP 250 trophy at the Melbourne Summer Set in January.