Rafael Nadal Brings Starpower to ATP Acapulco 500 in Mexico Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The ATP 500 level hard court tournament in Acapulco has a solid field lead by Rafael Nadal. It’s the tournament of the week for fans of the ATP. Here is your full preview with predictions.
Rafael Nadal is the main attraction and will begin against his good friend Feliciano Lopez. Thanasi Kokkinakis or Alexander Bublik will follow. He should face New York finalist Sam Querrey in the quarters. Querrey needs to defeat Matt Ebden and either Nikoloz Basilashvili or Jared Donaldson in round 2. With everyone but Querrey struggling, he should get that far before falling to Nadal.
Jack Sock badly needs to find form. He opens with Ernesto Escobedo, then Hyeon Chung or Donald Young in round 2. I’ll back Chung to upset Sock given he’s been the better player in 2018. Kevin Anderson plays great on this surface. Anderson should defeat Radu Albot and Adrian Mannarino/Ricardas Berankis. I’ll back Anderson over Chung in the quarters.
Alexander Zverev opens with Steve Johnson in an interesting opening round match. Johnson made semis in Delray and could upset Zverev but I’ll back Zverev to beat Johnson and his countryman Peter Gojowczyk to reach the quarters. Gojowczyk faces local player Lucas Gomez in round 1, he’s coming off a run to the finals in Delray. Two struggling American’s, John Isner and Ryan Harrison will face off. Fernando Verdasco lost to Diego Schwartzman in the Rio final. On hard courts I’ll give Verdasco the edge to get revenge, and upset a struggling Isner to reach the quarters. Zverev over Verdasco is my pick at that stage.
The third section of the draw is star packed. Juan Martin Del Potro should defeat Mischa Zverev to setup a big second round match against either Andrey Rublev or David Ferrer. Rublev is playing well enough that I’ll back him to get past Ferrer and upset Del Potro to reach the quarters. Kei Nishikori and Denis Shapovalov will face off in a massive round 1 matchup. Nishikori should be fresher than the Delray semifinalist Shapovalov. I’ll go with Dominic Thiem to defeat Cam Norrie, then Nishikori and Rublev to reach the semifinals.
I’m not entirely confident picking Nadal but he’s the most accomplished player in the field. Presuming fitness he should win the title. Thiem isn’t the favorite to reach the final but I’ll back him in a tough field.
2017 ATP Acapulco Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The top ATP Tour event this week is down in Mexico, as some of the tour’s best will battle it out at this 500 level tournament.
Abierto Mexicano Telcel
ATP World Tour 500*
February 27-March 4, 2017
Prize Money: $1,491,310
*denotes joint ATP/WTA event
Top 4 seeds (ATP rankings in parentheses)
1: Novak Djokovic (2)
2: Rafael Nadal (6)
3: Marin Cilic (8)
4: Dominic Thiem (9)
First round matches to watch:
Bernard Tomic vs. Donald Young
Young leads the h2h 2-1 and has made two straight semifinals in back to back weeks. Tomic has lost three straight matches and badly needs to bounce back down in Mexico. The Aussie has struggled with his fitness this year, and despite the fatigue factor, I have Young slipping past Tomic.
(4)Dominic Thiem vs. Gilles Simon
Thiem has won his last three matches against Simon, including one recently in Rotterdam. The Austrian is the defending champion and has won seven of his last eight matches. Simon is steady and will put a lot of balls back in play, but unless fatigue dooms Thiem, he should win this match.
(8)John Isner vs. Steve Johnson
Johnson has made two straight quarterfinals and has won his last two meetings against Isner. The 31 year old American big server has struggled this season and badly needs to find form. Despite being favored, I have Isner dropping this opening round match to Johnson.
(3)Marin Cilic vs. (WC)Alexandr Dolgopolov
These players have split h2h meetings, and Dolgopolov is coming off a seven match win streak. Cilic has struggled this year, but reached the quarterfinals in Rotterdam, and should be fitter than Dolgopolov. Despite his talented shotmaking, Dolgopolov should fall short against Cilic’s power.
(2)Rafael Nadal vs. Mischa Zverev
Nadal pummeled Zverev in Brisbane and is a heavy favorite in this one. The German has struggled since a run in Australia, but Nadal hasn’t played since then, and could be rusty. It will be interesting to see whether Zverev’s serve and volley bothers Rafa at all.
Novak Djokovic will open his title bid against Martin Klizan, big man Juan Martin Del Potro looms in round 2, presuming JMDP puts away qualifier Frances Tiafoe. This is a tough section for Djokovic, he should still defeat Del Potro, but then Marseille semifinalist Nick Kyrgios should await him in the quarters. Kyrgios opens with a struggling Dudi Sela, then the Young/Tomic winner. Kyrgios and Del Po both have the weapons to beat Novak, but I still can’t go against the multiple slam winner and world #2 to reach the semifinals.
David Goffin looks set to face Dominic Thiem in the the quarters. Goffin opens with a struggling Stephane Robert, his round 2 opponent is a Delray quarterfinalist, either Sam Querrey or Kyle Edmund. Goffin has been in great form, reaching consecutive ATP finals recently, he should beat Thiem after Thiem defeats Simon and Fritz/Mannarino.
The winner of Nadal/Zverev will face Rendy Lu/Paolo Lorenzi next, with Jack Sock the most likely quarterfinal opponent. Sock faces qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka, with either Feliciano Lopez or Jordan Thompson to follow. Given both Lopez and Thompson are struggling, the Delray champion Sock should be prepared for a battle with Nadal. Two of the best forehands in men’s tennis will go head-to-head, with Nadal likely to come out on top given his experience, and a better all-around game.
The winner of Johnson/Isner will face an American, either Ernesto Escobedo, or qualifier Stefan Kozlov. I have Johnson opposite Cilic in the quarters, after Dolgopolov, Cilic should defeat his countryman Borna Coric, who opens with local wild card Lucas Gomez.
Dark Horse: Juan Martin Del Potro
If Del Potro can find his range against Novak Djokovic, he could pull off a big upset, then defeat Nick Kyrgios to reach the semifinals. Del Potro has the power and ability, but he’s still likely too rusty to pull off that feat.
Semis Djokovic d. Goffin
Nadal d. Cilic
Djokovic leads Goffin 5-0 in the h2h, while Nadal leads Cilic 3-1, the top two players at this tournament should meet in the final.
Final Djokovic d. Nadal
Djokovic has won seven straight against Rafa, the Serbian is a favorite to take the title despite a difficult draw.
2016 ATP Acapulco Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The 500 level hard court tournament in the Mexican resort city of Acapulco continues to grow in stature and expand in prominence as a host of ATP stars will battle it out.
Abierto Mexicano Telcel
ATP World Tour 500*
February 22-27, 2016
Prize Money: $1,413,600
*denotes joint ATP/WTA event
Top 4 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: David Ferrer (6)
2: Kei Nishikori (7)
3: Marin Cilic (12)
4: Dominic Thiem (19)
Acapulco can stake a claim to the strongest field this week, as this 500 level tournament has drawn a deep and varied field.
First round matchups to watch:
Steve Johnson vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov
Steve Johnson won a three setter against Dolgopolov last year in Vienna, and he’s eager to take advantage of more hard court tennis after a rough start to 2016. Dolgo withdrew from Rio with a shoulder injury and may not be 100%, with that in mind, Johnson is likely a slight favorite.
Rajeev Ram stunned a tanking Bernard Tomic in Delray last week and ended up reaching the ATP final in one of the surprises of last week. Tomic has been in terrible form since the Australian Open swing and appears to be playing careless tennis once again. Ram is likely fatigued though, and thus Tomic has to be the favorite.
(8)Jeremy Chardy vs. (Q)Taylor Fritz
Delray quarterfinalist Jeremy Chardy will be the favorite against the young Memphis finalist Taylor Fritz, but Fritz got through qualifying and he’s an incredibly talented young gun. Chardy’s one dimensional attacking tennis is something Fritz could exploit with his offensive, and defensive game. Fritz is a solid player, but he’s still learning the ropes.
Defending champion David Ferrer hasn’t reached an ATP final this season and went 4-2 on clay after Melbourne. He opens with John Millman, who has lost two straight matches, and should defeat Steve Johnson after that to reach the quarterfinals. Ferrer’s weak section could see him face Ivo Karlovic in the quarterfinals. The veteran Dr. Ivo hasn’t won a match this year, while his first round opponent Aljaz Bedene has also lost four straight since reaching an ATP semi to start the season in Chennai. Karlovic/Bedene will face either wild card Luis Patino, a futures player, or Robin Haase, who is 1-4 in his last five matches. Karlovic’s trusty serve should see him reach the quarters, only to fall to Ferrer.
Marseille finalist Marin Cilic could be dealing with jetlag. Cilic opens with qualifier Ryan Harrison who continues to play on the fringes of ATP caliber tennis. Cilic is 2-0 in the h2h against Harrison and Illya Marchenko or qualifier Tommy Paul will follow in round 2. Paul is a young gun with promise, though Marchenko is a slight favorite. Cilic should dominate this section if he’s not overly fatigued, but Harrison could surprise.
Tomic/Ram is slated to face futures player Tigre Hank or Adrian Mannarino, a quarterfinalist in both Sofia and Delray Beach. Tomic has two three set wins over Mannarino, both came last year on hard courts, and one was in Acapulco. His poor form makes the Frenchman a dark horse to reach the quarterfinals though. Cilic is also 2-0 against Mannarino, but his fatigue should catch up to him, and I have it Ferrer vs. Mannarino in the semis. If Tomic can find form, he should reach the semis.
Kei Nishikori is the favorite to take the title this week, and he’ll open with qualifier Thiemo de Bakker. Delray champion Sam Querrey lost to Nishikori in Memphis, and presuming Querrey beats a struggling Dudi Sela, he’s still likely to lose to Kei once more. Chardy should beat veteran Victor Estrella, or another Mexican local player, Lucas Gomez, to reach the quarters. Nishikori has won his last two hard court meetings against Chardy and is in better form.
Dominic Thiem is 13-4 with an ATP title this season. The Austrian is making a push for the top 15 and beyond and he’s one of the top players of the season thus far. Thiem has shown his skill on both hard courts and clay. His round 1 opponent Damir Dzumhur has nothing to compare to his skillset, with a struggling Sam Groth, or Dmitry Tursunov to follow. Tursunov is returning from a lengthy injury layoff and hasn’t successfully completed an ATP main draw level match since the 2014 US Open. Even if Thiem is fatigued, he should slide into the quarters with this weak draw.
Grigor Dimitrov is a positive 10-4 on the season, but he has been denied a pair of ATP titles he was the favorite to claim in Sydney and Delray Beach. Dimitrov’s mental inconsistency is unlikely to be a problem in round 1 given his groundstrokes are better than a struggling Denis Kudla, but it could be an issue in round 2. The winner of Donald Young/Gilles Muller is in Dimitrov’s seedline, and the big server Muller, who dominated Young in Atlanta last year, has two ATP semifinals this season. Dimitrov beat Muller in Sydney but has lost to him twice before. That is an intriguing round 2 match, with Dimitrov the favorite to advance to the quarters.
The match of the tournament could be Dimitrov vs. Thiem in the quarterfinals, presuming both overcome fatigue, it will be their first meeting. Thiem has been better than Dimitrov this year, but Dimitrov is a good fast surface player, and will likely be somewhat fresher, thus I have him reaching the semis.
Mannarino will need to upset Tomic (or Ram), and Cilic, but he has a great chance to reach the semifinals as an unseeded player. His unique game is capable of peaking and posting big wins on fast surfaces.
Semis Ferrer d. Mannarino
Nishikori d. Dimitrov
Ferrer is 2-0 against Mannarino, Nishikori is also 2-0 against Dimitrov, and both have clear paths to the final.
Final Nishikori d. Ferrer
Ferrer upset Nishikori in the Acapulco final last year, and Nishikori should be eager to get him back in this one. Kei has had a decided edge in their other recent hard court meetings, and he appears ready to rise up in this one.