Something had to give in the Acapulco final between Rafael Nadal and Cameron Norrie, each man entering with a variety of personal win streaks on the line.
In hot and humid conditions, Nadal didn’t give an inch in a 6-4, 6-4 victory. The Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC title is the 91st of Nadal’s storied career, and his fourth in Acapulco.
“It always has been a very special place,” Nadal said of the host city. “The energy that the people from Mexico bring to me is very unique.”
The result brings a winning conclusion to the latest chapter of the 35-year-old’s comeback from a left foot injury that sidelined him for the last five months of 2021. It’s a story that Nadal himself feared would never be written, such was the discomfort caused by an injury he says cannot be fixed, but only managed.
Fresh off a dominant victory over soon-to-be World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev, Nadal extended his career-best start to an ATP Tour season to 15-0. Just as he did in 2020 in Acapulco, he won the title without dropping a set. Nadal has now won 13 sets in a row dating back to the Australian Open, and 20 straight in Acapulco.
The victory was also an 11th straight in ATP Tour finals; it was Nadal’s 128th appearance in a title match. Following this week’s results, he is projected to move up one place to No. 4 in the ATP Rankings on Monday.
“I went through some very difficult moments during the match that I was able to save, and then I took advantage when I had the chances,” said Nadal, who is both the youngest and oldest champion at the event.
“I’m very pleased. It was a very important title for me, so I can’t be happier.”
Norrie saw an eight-match winning streak snapped after his Delray Beach title last week.
– Tennis TV (@TennisTV) February 27, 2022
The Briton did very little wrong in the opening set, but Nadal seized on a trio of misses in the fifth game to create the only break point of the set. He took matters into his own hands there, uncorking a forehand passing shot to land the first real blow of the contest.
“Cameron is a very solid player, a tricky player,” Nadal said post-match. “He makes you feel that you cannot play comfortably against him at all.”
Nadal made a remarkable 89 per cent (24/27) of his first serves in the first set, winning 79 per cent (19/24) of those points. He finished with those numbers at 79 and 71 per cent for the match.
Just as he did after taking the opening set against Medvedev in the semis, Nadal scored an instant break to drive home the advantage in the second.
But in the next game, one streak did end for Nadal: a run of 16 consecutive break points saved, dating back to his quarter-final win over Tommy Paul. Norrie earned his first break points of the match at 0/40, and after Nadal erased those three chances, Norrie buckled down in a 20-ball rally to take a fourth for 1-1.
Undeterred after falling behind 1-2, Nadal recovered the advantage and then some by reeling off four straight games to put himself on the brink of Acapulco glory.
At the second time of asking, he served out the title tilt after a sublime pick-up volley brought up match point.
Nadal has now bookended his record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open with two others, starting with an ATP 250 trophy at the Melbourne Summer Set in January.