(The Sports Xchange) – Rafael Nadal continues to show no rust in his first tournament since losing the Australian Open final earlier this year.
The second-seeded Nadal reached the final of the Mexican Open on Friday night in Acapulco, Mexico, with a 6-1 6-2 victory over Marin Cilic of Croatia.
Nadal’s opponent will be American Sam Querry. The 29-year-old dropped the first set against Nick Kyrgios of Australia but held on to win the next two for a 3-6 6-1 7-5 victory.
Kyrgios had eliminated top-seeded Novak Djokovic a night earlier.
Cilic was no match for the 30-year-old Nadal, who will be seeking his third title in the hard-court event. He previously won the tournament in 2005 and 2013.
“I have to be playing well to win like this against a player like Marin, so I’m pleased with the performance,” Nadal said. “I’m happy with my focus in important moments, saving break points with good shots. I enjoyed the atmosphere here, so it’s great for me to be in the final.”
Nadal has not fared well in recent years on hard courts. His last championship on the surface came in Doha in January 2014. But he seems to be on top of his game this week, having not lost a set.
“Anytime you play against someone like Cilic you expect to suffer in a tight match, but it was not like that,” Nadal said. “I believe that he had his chances, but I played a good game.”
Nadal will be seeking his 70th overall title and first this season in Saturday’s final.
The last meeting between Nadal and Querry came at the 2016 Madrid Open. Nadal has a 4-0 career record against the 29-year-old Querry, who reached the semi-finals in the Mexican Open last year.
“Sam is playing great, beating (David) Goffin and (Dominic) Thiem, so he’ll be coming into the match with a lot of confidence,” Nadal said.
(Editing by Gene Cherry)