(Reuters) -New world number one Daniil Medvedev defeated Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-2 6-3 in Acapulco on Thursday to storm into the semi-finals of the ATP 500 event, where he will take on Rafa Nadal in an Australian Open final rematch.
Medvedev, who took the court hours after Novak Djokovic’s quarter-final loss in Dubai meant the Russian would replace him atop the rankings, converted six break points and fired down 12 aces, including one to seal the match.
“It’s not easy, actually, to play a match when you get this (news) during the day,” Medvedev said in his on-court interview when asked about becoming world number one.
“So then when I was receiving all the messages, well I understood that, yeah OK, it’s going to happen.”
After blitzing his way through the first set, during which he converted all three break point chances and won 80% of his first serve points, Medvedev was forced to rally back in the second after falling behind 3-1.
Up next for Medvedev is Australian Open champion Nadal, who made a blistering start against world number 39 Tommy Paul but faced a second set fightback from the American amid increasing humidity to prevail 6-0 7-6(5).
Medvedev squandered a two-set lead against Nadal in their previous meeting in Melbourne in January, allowing the Spaniard to clinch a men’s record 21st Grand Slam title.
He will have to be in top form to beat Nadal, who is on a 13-match winning streak in 2022 – his best start to a season in his career at the age of 35.
“Everybody knows how difficult it is to play against Daniil,” Nadal said. “I know I have to play at my highest level if I want to have any chance, and that’s what I’m going to try.”
Medvedev said it would be special to face Nadal again.
“Kind of a chance to get my revenge,” said Medvedev. “You have to learn from the best, which is him, Roger (Federer), Novak, Andy (Murray) … always when they were losing a tough fight, they were trying to get their revenge.”
World number four Stefanos Tsitsipas, who was runner-up in Acapulco last year, also reached the semi-finals with a 6-3 6-4 victory over American Marcos Giron and has not dropped a set this week.
Tsitsipas will face British sixth seed Cameron Norrie who lost just one game to hammer Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk 6-1 6-0 in the day’s final match on the main showcourt.
Gojowczyk had received a walkover to the quarters after last year’s champion Alexander Zverev was kicked out of the event for his assault on an umpire’s chair.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; additional reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru and Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Kenneth Maxwell)