Rafael Nadal continues his winning ways in the New Year…
The 35-year-old Spanish tennis star defeated Cameron Norrie 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday to win the Mexican Open and extend his career-best start for a season to 15-0 as he won his 91st ATP title.
Nadal, who won his third title in 2022, including the Australian Open for his record 21st Grand Slam singles title, is three victories from tying Ivan Lendl‘s total of 94 for third place for most championships in the Open Era. Jimmy Connors leads with 109 and Roger Federer has 103.
“At the end of the day I’ve always said that this kind of records needs to be measured once your career is over,” Nadal said. “Today the most important thing is that I have won a prestigious tournament.”
The Mexican Open is an ATP 500-level tournament played on hard courts, and this year four of the top-five players in the world started in the draw: Daniil Medvedev (2), Alexander Zverev (3), Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) and Nadal (5).
Medvedev, who’ll rise to No. 1 in the rankings on Monday, lost to Nadal in the semifinals. Zverev was thrown out of the tournament for violently smashing his racket on the umpire’s chair moments after losing a doubles match, and Tsitsipas lost to Norrie in the other semifinal.
“[Acapulco] is a tournament that started with five of the top six players in the world,” Nadal said. “It was complicated, and I ended up taking the victory. Looking back, a few weeks ago this would have looked impossible. It’s amazing how things can change in such a short span, from not being able to practice and now to be where I am today.”
Nadal won for the fourth time in Acapulco (2005, 2013 and 2020), where he is a fan favorite.
He won his first title in Mexico when he was 18 and holds the record for the youngest winner in tournament history as well as the oldest at 35.
“It’s been a long career,” Nadal said. “The first time I came here, everything was new for me, and after all these years you start to appreciate more each victory than when you were an 18-year-old boy.”
Nadal said that his body is holding up well and that he is eager to play at Indian Wells, California, in a couple of weeks.
Norrie, who was on an eight-game winning streak, was trying to become the first British man to win the Mexican Open in its 29-year history.
“I played against him before, so I had an idea on how to play him, but I gave him a couple of easy points and he gave me nothing,” said Norrie. “It was little bit of lack of concentration, and I gave him the match.”
At the start of the match, Nadal had a break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and went on to win the first set in 51 minutes.
In the second set, Nadal had a break in the first game, but Norrie returned it and appeared to be back into the match, but the Spaniard added breaks in the fifth and seventh games to take home the trophy.