Fourteen years after he won the first title there, two two-time Acapulco champion and the world no. 2 Rafael Nadal is back in action for the first time since that Australian Open final loss. Rafa has earned his 925th ATP win following a solid 6-3, 6-3 triumph over Mischa Zverev in 80 minutes, scoring the third win over the experienced German and the second here in Acapulco after 2017.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion served at only 54% and he hit three aces and four double faults for potential troubles on serve although Zverev couldn't take advantage from that, winning just 17 points on the return and wasting the only break point he secured to mount the pressure on his initial shot.
Mischa to repeat similar numbers to stay in contention but that never happened, though, losing 43% of the points in his games and suffering three breaks from seven opportunities given to Rafa to end his campaign in the opening round.
A backhand down the line winner in game four delivered the first break point for Nadal and he converted it with a beautiful backhand lob winner, creating another break chance next time he returned after a forehand down the line winner.
Zverev saved it with an excellent volley and repelled a set point at 2-5 with a service winner, staying within one break deficit before Nadal closed the opener with four winners in game nine for a 6-3 in 39 minutes. The German saved a break point in the third game of the second set with a smash winner but Rafa kept the pressure on the return, creating two break points with a forehand return winner in game seven and converting the second when Mischa sprayed a forehand error.
After cementing the break, Rafa increased the lead to 5-3 thanks to a smash winner in the game that followed and he broke again in game nine to cross the finish line. Serving to stay in the match, Mischa got broken for the third time when Rafa places a perfect backhand down the line winner to reach the second round where he will face Nick Kyrgios.