Spain's Rafael Nadal made it through to the semifinals at the Abierta Mexicana Telcel event on Thursday in Acapulco with a rather hard-fought 7-6 (2), 6-3 win over Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Spain's Rafael Nadal made it through to the semifinals at the Abierta Mexicana Telcel event on Thursday in Acapulco with a rather hard-fought win over Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan, and the two-time champion is happy to have survived.
The tournament's top seed, Novak Djokovic, wasn't as fortunate.
In a match that took nearly two hours to complete, Nadal, the second seed, moved past the 21-year-old Nishioka 7-6 (2), 6-3.
Later Thursday night, sixth-seeded Nick Kyrgios of Australia knocked out Djokovic 7-6 (9), 7-5.
Joining Nadal in the semifinals was unseeded American Sam Querrey, who eliminated fourth-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria 6-1, 7-5.
Earlier in the day, third-seeded Marin Celic of Croatia reached the semifinals after American Steve Johnson was forced to withdraw with a right ankle injury. Johnson sustained the injury during his match against Ernesto Escobedo on Wednesday.
Nadal and Cilic will meet in one semifinal on Friday. Querrey will oppose Kyrgios.
Djokovic's mini slump continued with the defeat. The Serb fell in the second round of the Australian Open to Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin, then didn't play again until this week. He managed only one win, against Slovakia's Martin Klizan, before losing to Kyrgios.
Nadal overcame a 4-2 deficit in the first set and trailed 0-2 in the second. He rallied each time ended the one-hour, 57-minute match with an overhead smash.
"Every game here is special," Nadal said. "I did not play my best tennis, but that's why it has a merit. I played great the previous rounds and today I was able to get over a tough situation. I'm happy to be in the semifinals, that's great news."
Nadal is playing this week for the first time since losing to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final. He has a career record of 3-1 against Cilic, but they haven't squared off since 2015.
"He's one of the toughest rivals in the world, he has a great serve and is very aggressive," Nadal said. "I will have to play so much better than today if I want to have a shot."
Nadal has a 13-0 record in this event, which he won in 2005 and 2013.