Nadal Leads Stacked Acapulco Field
It’s an absolutely golden line-up this year for the silver anniversary of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC. The ATP World Tour 500 tournament, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this week, boasts a stacked field including a tournament record of six of the world’s Top 10 players.
Heading the all-star field is No. 1 seed and last year’s runner-up Rafael Nadal, who is playing his first match since the Australian Open. Having just relinquished the top spot in the ATP Rankings to Roger Federer following the Swiss’ victory in Rotterdam, Nadal opens his Acapulco campaign against compatriot Feliciano Lopez in an effort to keep the rankings gap between himself and Federer close heading into the BNP Paribas Open the first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments of the year in March.
“I am happy to be here. I feel recovered from what happened in Melbourne,” said Nadal of the injury that forced him to retire from his quarter-final match against Marin Cilic. “[I took] a couple of weeks of rest and worked hard on rehabilitation. Last week I started practising hard again. I feel ready.
“[Injuries are] part of my career. It’s not the first time," added the Spaniard. "Of course it’s tough, especially at this point when you feel ready to compete well. For me it was a good chance to be fighting for an important title in Australia. But it happened and I can’t complain. I have to keep going, keep working and that’s what I did.”
Defending champion Sam Querrey, who is seeded seventh this week, looms in Nadal’s quarter, playing Matthew Ebden in the first round, while Jack Sock and Kevin Anderson round out the seeds in the draw’s top half; they open against a qualifier and Radu Albot respectively.
Seeded second is World No. 5 Alexander Zverev, who opens against American Steve Johnson at the head of a loaded bottom half of the draw. Zverev’s potential quarter-final opponent is John Isner, who will play countryman Ryan Harrison in his first match.
In a rare turn of events, recent Rio Open presented by Claro finalists Diego Schwartzman and Fernando Verdasco will get another crack at each other sooner than they might have thought – the two are slated to play each other just days after their final in Brazil, which the Argentine won 6-2, 6-3.
In another competitive quarter, 2016 champion Dominic Thiem leads the charge against a qualifier to potentially await the winner of a blockbuster first-round match between former World No. 4 Kei Nishikori and #NextGenATP Denis Shapovalov. The Canadian is fresh off his first semi-final of the season in Delray Beach, while Nishikori continues his comeback from an injury-plagued 2017.
At the other end of the quarter is Juan Martin del Potro, who has a tricky opening-round encounter with lefty serve-and-volley specialist Mischa Zverev. The winner of that match will play either four-time champion David Ferrer or #NextGenATP Andrey Rublev. Rublev and Ferrer will be playing for the second time this season, with the Russian having won their previous encounter at the Australian Open in a five-set nail-biter.
The doubles field is headlined by the top-ranked team of Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, as well as No. 2 seeds Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic, who have posted an exceptional 17-1 record in 2018. Defending champions Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, as well as two-time champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, round out the exceptional overall line-up in Acapulco this week.