(AFP) – Rafael Nadal used a steady stream of blistering forehand winners and a heavy dose of precision serves to book his spot in the ATP Mexico Open final with a convincing 6-3, 6-2 win over Grigor Dimitrov.
It has been 15 years since Rafa won for the first time here. He also won in 2013 and improved to 18-2 at this event overall.
“I’m very happy. A great victory against one of the best players in the world and a good friend,” Rafa said after his one-sided victory on Friday night. “I think I’ve increased my level during the match, so it’s positive for me.”
The top seed clinched the victory on his first match point. He fell behind 0-30 in the final game but rallied to win the next four points.
On match point, seventh seed Dimitrov hit a backhand that clipped the top of the net and bounced in. But it hung in the air just long enough for Rafa to race forward and blast a cross-court forehand that the Bulgarian had no chance on. Rafa continued his dominance of Dimitrov, improving to 13-1 lifetime. Rafa has only lost 20 games in his first four matches this week and is yet to lose a set.
The unseeded Fritz defeated fellow American John Isner in the other semi-final 2-6, 7-5, 6-3.
“He’s playing well. He has a great serve, fantastic shots from the baseline. It’s going to be a tough one,” Rafa said of Fritz. “I know I’m going to have to be at my best and I hope to be ready for it.”
This will be the first meeting between Rafa and 22-year-old Fritz.
The second set progressed nearly identically to the first set, with Dimitrov breaking early for a 2-0 lead before Rafa stormed back. Rafa finished out the night by going on a six-game run. His final forehand winner ended play after one hour and 41 minutes.