(Reuters) – Rafael Nadal has defeated new men’s world number one Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-3 in a rematch of their Australian Open final to storm into the decider of the ATP 500 event in Acapulco.
Rafa had to fight back from two sets down in their previous meeting in Melbourne last month to clinch a men’s record 21st major singles title.
But in Mexico, it was the Spaniard who got off to a fast start.
Medvedev was forced to defend a couple of breakpoints in his very first service game, before Rafa broke minutes later to take a 3-1 lead, which he held onto to claim the first set 6-3.
Rafa appeared to carry his momentum into the second set, breaking serve early to go 1-0 up.
But Medvedev grew into the contest as the set progressed and began causing the Spaniard all kinds of problems with his backhand drop shot.
Medvedev earned a total of 11 breakpoints across just two of Rafa’s service games in the second set, but the Australian Open champion dug deep to hold serve on both occasions.
“I played some amazing points on the break points,” said Rafa, who noted that the high bounce on the stadium court helped his game. “The second set was very emotional. Daniil was playing very aggressive — drop shots, winners. It was a very difficult set. I feel lucky to win that set because he had a lot of chances.”
“This week means a lot after what happened in Australia. I was able to remain focused. That means that I’m OK mentally, and that’s important because there’s a tough final tomorrow. It’s been a long career with more success that I could have imagined. To be playing here is a gift that I treasure and appreciate. I’m thankful for these opportunities.”
Rafa’s service under pressure took the wind out of Medvedev’s sails and the Russian was broken once again as an unforced backhand error handed his opponent the win and set up a clash against British number one Cameron Norrie in the final.