Acapulco - Rafael Nadal bounced back from a break down in
both sets to defeat Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 and book a spot
in the semi-finals of the ATP Mexico Open.
The second-seeded Spaniard, a two-time winner in Acapulco,
hammered five aces and won 81 percent of his first-serve points in the battle
between the two lefthanders.
World No. 6 Nadal also kept his Acapulco unbeaten streak
alive, having won 13 straight matches, and moved to 26-0 in sets in the ATP
Nadal advanced to the semi-final meeting with Marin Cilic.
Nadal has won three of four career meetings with the Croatian.
The 30-year-old Nadal clinched on Thursday's victory in the
ninth game of the second set with an overhead smash at the net after Nishioka's
return landed well short.
Nadal easily won the opening set tiebreaker by taking the
first five points and then two out of the next four. He closed out the first
set with a blistering cross-court forehand that froze Nishioka in his tracks.
Nishioka was his own worst enemy at times as the 21-year-old
qualifier had no aces, made four double faults and won just 50 percent of his
In the eighth game of the first set, Nishioka was up 40-15
and, despite having three challenges on the board, he failed to challenge a
Nadal forehand that was ruled in but appeared to have sailed wide.
Third-seeded Cilic reached the semi-finals without hitting a
ball as American Steve Johnson withdrew.
Johnson pulled out of his scheduled quarter-final on the hard-court
with a right ankle injury he said he sustained in his victory over Ernesto
Escobedo on Wednesday.
In the day's other quarter-finals, top-seeded Serbian Novak
Djokovic took on Australian sixth seed Nick Kyrgios while fourth seed and
defending champion Dominic Thiem of Austria faced big-serving American Sam
Results from the ATP/WTA tournament in Acapulco, Mexico, on Thursday:
Marin Cilic (CRO x3) bt Steve Johnson (USA) walkover
Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) bt Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 7-6 (7/2), 6-3
Sam Querrey (USA) bt Dominic Thiem (AUT x4) 6-1, 7-5
Lesia Tsurenko (UKR x7) bt Jelena Ostapenko (LAT x3) 6-3, 7-6 (7/5)
Christina McHale (USA x5) bt Monica Puig (PUR x4) 6-2, 6-2
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA x2) bt Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 6-4, 6-3