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 tournamentÂ 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