Facing each other for the sixth time, Rafael Nadal defeated Daniil Medvedev for the fifth time in the Acapulco semi-final. The Spaniard toppled the Russian 6-3, 6-3 in grueling two hours to advance into the 128th ATP final and the fifth in Mexico.
Medvedev had a massive chance to beat Nadal in the Australian Open final in January, leading 6-2, 7-6, 3-2, 40-0 before Rafa performed one of his most impressive comebacks to score a 2-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 victory in five hours and 24 minutes.
The Russian was eager to avenge that loss in Acapulco, but it was not to be for him, spraying his chances on the return and getting broken three times to propel the Spaniard into the final against Cameron Norrie. Rafa served well in the opening set and claimed it with a single break on his tally.
Daniil experienced an early break in set number two, and he had a massive chance to pull it back in games four and six. Nonetheless, Nadal stayed focused and defended all 11 break points to keep the initial shot intact and bring the victory home.
Thus, the 35-year-old set a personal record, never fending off that many break chances in a single match without losing serve. Rafa was nine from nine while saving break points five times in the past, and he bested that record against the Russian to remain perfect so far in 2022.
Medvedev erased two break points in the encounter's second game and bypassed an early setback. Nadal closed the third game with a service winner and delivered a break in the next one when Medvedev netted a backhand at the net.
In the fifth game, Rafa claimed four straight points and closed it with an unreturned serve for 4-1. The Russian held in the sixth game after deuces, and the Spaniard brought the next one home at love to stay ahead. Rafa served for the set at 5-3 and clinched it with a service winner after 47 minutes.
Rafael Nadal saved all 11 break points versus Daniil Medvedev.
Medvedev hit a double fault to face break chances at the beginning of the second set and sprayed a forehand mistake to fall further behind. In the second game, the three-time champion held at love with a forehand down the line winner, looking good to seal the deal from there.
Instead, Daniil found the rhythm on the return in the fourth game to create his first break chances. Nadal stayed calm and defended four of those before closing the game with a service winner. The Spaniard had an even more enormous task to solve two games later, experiencing nine deuces and no less than seven break points.
Daniil squandered them all, and Rafa brought the game home after 20 minutes of a grueling battle that gave him a boost. The Spaniard held in game eight with a service winner and sealed the deal from 40-15 down in the next one to emerge in the fifth Acapulco final.
Facing those 11 break opportunities, Nadal hit five winners and forced five mistakes from his opponent, with Medvedev spraying only one unforced error and still losing all 11 points.