After the second-round loss to Lukas Rosol in five sets at Wimbledon 2012, world no. 2 Rafael Nadal was forced to skip the next seven months, struggling due to a left knee injury. Unable to make a comeback at the beginning of the new season, Rafa hit the court in Vina del Mar in February 2013, opting to embrace the South American Golden Swing and hoping to regain form and momentum as soon as possible on his beloved clay.
Scoring three commanding wins, Rafa was in another final on his favorite surface but could not win the title after suffering a massive 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 loss to Horacio Zeballos in two hours and 47 minutes. A week later, the Spaniard entered an indoor clay event in Sao Paulo, heading all the way to celebrate the first ATP title in eight months and only the second under the roof after Madrid 2005!
Taking a week off, the Spaniard was back in action in Acapulco, returning to Mexico for the first time in eight years after winning the title at 18 in 2005. Rafa stood above the rest of the field as a teenager, and nothing changed in 2013, as he dropped 25 games in ten sets to lift the 52nd ATP title and the second in three weeks.
The reigning Roland Garros champion did everything right on serve and return, suffering only one break and having the upper hand on the rivals' serve to race towards the finish line and dethrone the three-time champion David Ferrer.
In the first round, the young Argentine Diego Schwartzman fell 6-2, 6-2 in 68 minutes, stealing Nadal's serve once but getting broken five times to propel world no. 5 through. In round two, Rafa dismissed another Argentine Martin Alund 6-0, 6-4, fending off all three break chances and earning four return games to dominate from start to finish and advance into the quarters.
The clash against Leonard Mayer lasted an hour and 41 minutes, and the lower-ranked player challenged Rafa in set number two before losing ground in the closing stages to push the Spaniard into the semis.
Rafael Nadal lost only two games against David Ferrer in 2013 Acapulco final.
It was all about the Spanish Armada in the tournament's closing stages.
David Ferrer moved closer to the fourth straight Acapulco crown, and he faced Nadal in the title clash after Rafa ousted Nicolas Almagro 7-5, 6-4 in an hour and 49 minutes. Rafa grabbed only five points more than his rival in the most challenging obstacle for him that week, repelling all four break chances and delivering one break in each set to advance into the final.
Interestingly, David was ranked ahead of Rafa, but no one could notice that in the title match on March 2, with Nadal scoring a dominant 6-0, 6-2 triumph in 65 minutes, the most impressive one out of all 26 against his great friend!
Rafa lost 12 points in seven service games, erased both break chances offered to Ferrer and took almost 60% of the return points. He turned them into five breaks from eight opportunities, leaving the defending champion far behind and taking the trophy from him.
Hitting under ten winners and 20 unforced errors, David never stood a chance against such a strong rival, who tamed his shots nicely to finish the job with more winners than unforced errors on his tally. Rafa had the edge in the shortest exchanges and destroyed David in more extended ones to cross the finish line in style.
Nadal broke in the first game following Ferrer's loose forehand and cemented the lead after another forehand mistake from the older Spaniard in game two. In game four, Rafa saved a break chance and brought it home with a service winner.
He delivered another break with a forehand winner and clinched the opener with a hold at 15 in game six when Ferrer netted a forehand. Rafa broke at 15 in the second set's first game to extend his streak and landed a service winner for a 6-0, 2-0 advantage.
David finally held in the third game to avoid a complete disaster and earned a break chance in the next one. He wasted it with a backhand error and paid the price in the next one when the net caught his forehand to send him 4-1 down.
Staying focused and composed, Nadal held at 15 to remain two breaks up and served for the title at 5-2. Three winners pushed Rafa over the edge, and he finished the job with a backhand down the line winner to celebrate the second Acapulco crown. Rafa became the last clay-court champion in Acapulco, as the organizers switched to hard from 2014.