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 Tour event.
Nadal advanced to the a semi-final meeting with Marin Cilic. Nadal has won three of four career meetings with the Croatian.
The 30-year-old Nadal clinched Thursday’s victory in the ninth game of the second set with a 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 second-serve points.
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 hardcourts 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 Querrey.
© Agence France-Presse