One of two ATP 500 hard court events this week is taking place in Acapulco, Mexico for the Mexican Open. The biggest story in the lead-up to the event is the return of 17-time Grand Slam champion, Rafael Nadal. Nadal’s last appearance was at the Australian Open where he was obliterated by world #1, Novak Djokovic.
With a plethora of big-name-floaters amongst the draw, this was always going to be intriguing to see the placements of many. Starting right off the bat up top is a potential R2 matchup between Nadal & the often-dangerous/ often-not, Nick Kyrgios. Of course this would require Kyrgios to get past Seppi in the first round which is no easy task. 7th-seeded American, Steve Johnson, snapped a 8 game losing streak this past week & faces local Wild Card, Gerardo Lopez Villasenor. Johnson will likely face Stan Wawrinka in the second round.
The second quarter is a bit of a mix. 3 Americans & 2 qualifiers are amongst the 8 players. 3rd seed, John Isner, faces Adrian Mannarino first up, a man who Isner defeated just this past week in Delray Beach, 7-6 6-4. Querrey-Fritz should be a fun match to watch here, with Fritz maybe seeing a good draw.
The 4th-seeded, Diego Schwartzman, is one to keep an eye on. The Argentine was forced to withdraw from his first-round match in Rio due to a leg injury. Frances Tiafoe is someone who will be looking to bounce back, after suffering two first-up losses in his prior two tournaments. Fellow American, Mackenzie McDonald, is another name who could make some noise here, after making the semi final in Delray Beach where he took down the world #4, Juan Martin del Potro, en route.
A fun final quarter of the draw in Acapulco is headed up by Alexander Zverev. The ultra-talented German will be looking for a good result here and it will start with a qualifier first up. 20-year-old and 5th-seeded Australian sensation, Alex de Minaur is playing in his first ATP tournament since the Australian Open and has drawn Chilean, Nicolas Jarry in the first round. Whilst Wild Card recipient & farewell tour leader, David Ferrer, has drawn Tennys Sandgren.
On Upset Alert here we have Marius Copil to beat Diego Schwartzman. Schwartzman, as mentioned earlier, suffered a leg injury that forced him to withdraw from his match last week, and could be under-done coming in here. The Romanian has claimed big scalps previously (Cilic & A. Zverev) and would love to take down another high seed here.
One To Watch
The One To Watch here is the young Aussie, Alex de Minaur. de Minaur, who will be entering the tournament at a career-high ranking of 26, won his first ATP title in Sydney this year & followed it up with a 3rd-round performance in Melbourne. An out-of-sorts Nicolas Jarry, first up, followed by either Lajovic-Lopez in the second round presents a great opportunity. That opportunity would be a mouth-watering clash against #2 seed, Alexander Zverev in the quarter finals.
After almost a month to rest & re-group, I’m predicting the #1 seed, Rafael Nadal, to take out the title here. The record-breaking Spaniard utterly destroyed all opponents en route to the final at the Australian Open in January, before ultimately getting it handed to him by the world #1. If he can get out of his very tough first quarter, he should cruise to a title here.