Acapulco R1 previews and predictions: Nadal vs. Zverev, Djokovic vs. Klizan

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will begin their weeks in Acapulco as part of a jam-packed Tuesday schedule. Nadal has an intriguing opener with Mischa Zverev on his hands, while Djokovic is going up against Martin Klizan.

Mischa Zverev vs. (2) Rafael Nadal

Nadal and Zverev will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers and for the second time this season when they meet again in the Abierto Mexicano Telcel first round on Tuesday. Their only previous encounter came last month in Brisbane, where Nadal dominated 6-1, 6-1. Zverev, though, has to be a much more confident player just seven weeks later. After all, the 29-year-old German made a breakthrough run to the Australian Open quarterfinals that included an upset of world No. 1 Andy Murray. Zverev is up to a career-high 30th in the rankings, but he is 0-4 in his last four matches starting with a quarterfinal loss at Melbourne Park to eventual champion Roger Federer.

This marks Nadal’s first appearance in Acapulco since it became a hard-court tournament in 2014. His past history at this tournament hardly matters since it came on clay, but for whatever it’s worth the Spaniard is a perfect 10-0 with titles in 2005 and 2013. Nadal is 8-2 this season with a quarterfinal showing in Brisbane and a five-set loss to Federer in the Aussie Open title match. A well-rested world No. 6 will likely be way too good for an opponent who has clearly cooled off since leaving Melbourne.

Pick: Nadal in 2 losing 8 games or fewer

(1) Novak Djokovic vs. Martin Klizan

Djokovic is also playing in his first tournament since the Australian Open, where he was decidedly less successful than Nadal. The Serb was stunned in the second round by Denis Istomin, who recovered from a two sets to one deficit to triumph 7-6(8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4. Aside from that, however, Djokovic is undefeated in 2017. He lifted the winner’s trophy in Doha, where he toppled Andy Murray in the title match, and won a Davis Cup rubber against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev.

Up first for Djokovic on Tuesday is a third career contest against Klizan, who is 0-2 in the head-to-head series. They faced each other twice in 2015, when the current world No. 2 prevailed 6-0, 5-7, 6-1 in Miami and 6-2, 6-1 in Shanghai. Klizan’s interesting 2016 campaign featured 500-point titles in Rotterdam and Hamburg, but he did absolutely nothing else the entire rest of the season. Now that his Rotterdam points are off the board, the Slovak–who is a decent 5-6 this year–is down at 62nd in the world. Klizan enjoys the big stages and has the forehand firepower to give any opponent some trouble, but his current form suggests that not much of a fight will be put forth in this one.

Pick: Djokovic in 2 losing 7 games or fewer

4 Comments on Acapulco R1 previews and predictions: Nadal vs. Zverev, Djokovic vs. Klizan

  1. I think his body has to get used to all the weekly grinding again if he’s to go deep at the slams and the Atp events.

    I very much hope for Rafa to play all his matches something like the way he played against Raonic at the AO. He was simply impressive from start to finish except for that TV warning that disrupted his rhythm in the second set. I feel that’s the best match he played there. He started well against Dimi but again the TV warning had cost him the second set I feel and then he had to struggle to contain a Dimi whose confidence had grown after that and played the match of his life and Rafa barely edged him for the win.

    Those who played very aggressively against Rafa were the ones who gave him the biggest problems. Note that A Zverev, Monfils, Dimi and Fed all were aggressive and had many more winners (and UEs) vs Rafa. Rafa had/has the tendency to fall back to his more defensive game once he faced an aggressive player; to me that’s his main weakness.

    He should start all his matches the way he did vs Raonic or Mischa; an aggressive Rafa is certainly hard to beat, I’m sure Djoko and Fed would agree with me on this. So, Rafa and your team, please pay attention; get Rafa to play aggressive tennis in all his matches, that way his opponents won’t have many chances against him!

  2. Here is Rafa’s on-court interview in Spanish:

    A Rafan, who commented on the interview, asks fans not to worry when seeing tapes on Rafa’s wrists: “… Also, note Rafa removing tape from both wrists during his interview. Nothing to worry about: remember he ALWAYS tapes them under high humidity.”

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