LOS ANGELES, USA – World No. 2 Rafael Nadal captured his first title of 2020, easily defeating unseeded Taylor Fritz in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, in the final of the ATP Mexico Open on Saturday, February 29 (Sunday, March 1, Philippine time).
The 33-year-old Nadal, playing in his first tournament since losing in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open last month, didn't drop a set all week and improved to 19-2 all-time at this event.
He nabbed his third Mexico Open title to go with victories in 2013 and 2005.
"I couldn’t be happier. I played a great event from the beginning to the end," Nadal said. "Acapulco was the first big title that I won in my career, so to be able to stay here after 15 years is amazing.
"I can't thank enough the people who make me feel at home every single time."
Nadal wasted no time figuring out Fritz's game in the first career meeting between the two.
The 19-time Grand Slam winner made 8 unforced errors and needed just one ace but it came in the final game of the 2nd set to get to championship point.
Nadal closed it out with a blistering serve that handcuffed Fritz and gave Nadal his 85th career title.
Nadal ceded the world No. 1 ranking to Novak Djokovic after the Australian Open, where the Serb won a record eighth title.
Nadal could have regained the top spot with a win in Acapulco, but he also needed Djokovic to fail to reach the final in this week's Dubai event.
Djokovic extended his win streak to 21 matches by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 earlier Saturday to lift the Dubai trophy.
Nadal won the final 8 points to take the first set. He seized control by breaking Fritz's serve in the ninth game to go up 5-4. He then served for the set, winning 4 straight points.
On set point he hammered a serve which Fritz barely got back. That set up an overhead smash for Nadal which he put away nicely.
Nadal broke Fritz twice in the 2nd set, including the 5th game to go up 3-2. He broke Fritz again to take a 5-4 lead and then served out the match.
Nadal has now won a title 17 consecutive years.
In the women's final, seventh-seeded Heather Watson captured her first WTA title in 3 years by grinding out a 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-1 win over Canadian teen Leylah Fernandez.
The persistent Fernandez, of Filipino and Ecuadorean descent, survived 9 championship points before finally succumbing to the Brit in the two hour, 46 minute marathon. – Rappler.com