The majority of the world’s top players head to Acapulco this week for the Mexican Open, as the ATP 500 series continues to roll on. This will be the 25th edition of the tournament that is played on outdoor hard courts and it will feature a prize pot of over £1 million. The winner’s share is set to be in excess of £230,000, while the unlucky finalist will still take home in excess of £110,000. Despite the tournament taking place at the same time as the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships the majority of the world’s top ten have chosen to compete here, handing the competition a boost. This year’s tournament will see all the eyes on former world number one Rafael Nadal as he makes his return from the injury that forced him to retire from his Australian Open quarter-final last month. Who will leave Mexico as the champion?
Austrian Thomas Muster and Spaniard David Ferrer hold the joint-record for most titles won at this event with four, with David Ferrer competing this year looking for a record breaking fifth title. American Sam Querrey is the defending champion, after producing a fantastic performance to beat Rafael Nadal in straight-sets twelve months ago, and he’ll be hoping for a repeat performance this time around. Last year’s beaten finalist Rafael Nadal is a two-time champion here after claiming the title in 2005 and 2013 when the tournament was a clay court event. 2016 champion Dominic Thiem is the only other former champion in this year’s field, as the Austrian ace looks to claim a second title here. Will one of these former champions win this title again, or will we see a new name claim success in Acapulco?
Last 5 Champions
2017 – Sam Querrey
2016 – Dominic Thiem
2015 – David Ferrer
2014 – Grigor Dimitrov
2013 – Rafael Nadal (Clay court)
Rafael Nadal returns from injury this week as the sixteen-time grand slam champion looks to improve his fitness ahead of the Sunshine Double in America next month. The Spaniard suffered further disappointment during his lay-off as rival Roger Federer overtook him in the rankings to become the new world number one. Nadal will be looking to reclaim that position as soon as he can, and a good run this week would see him close the gap his rival. The thirty-one-year-old’s best performance here came when the tournament was a clay court event, winning the title twice, but he did manage to reach the final here last year. Despite being beaten on that occasion Nadal will come into this tournament confident on claiming his third title here. The two-time champ will be the favourite this week, but will he be able to take home the title so soon after recovering from his latest injury?
Sam Querrey will be looking to successfully defend his title this week, as the number seven seed looks to find his top form after a mixed start to the season. Last year’s Wimbledon semi-finalist reached the final of the recent New York Open, but other than that the American has won only one other match all season. While Querrey is still looking to find his best tennis this year he will come into this tournament confident after last year’s triumph. Meanwhile, four-time champion David Ferrer will be hoping to claim this title for a fifth time. The Spaniard has not enjoyed the best start to the season and he comes into this tournament on the back of a string of first round exits from tournaments. The former world number three now finds himself outside the top thirty-two in the world, but his past performances here mean you can’t rule him out of claiming another title at this event.
Dominic Thiem will come into this tournament looking to win it for the second time following his triumph in 2016. The Austrian has begun to discover some of his best form in the last couple of weeks after claiming his first title of the year at the Argentina Open, a clay court event. The former world number four also enjoyed a run to the quarter-finals of last week’s Rio Open and so he’s finding some form. However, Thiem needs to start producing his best tennis not only on a clay surface, but everywhere he plays. The twenty-four-year-old had a hugely disappointing second half to last season once all the clay court events were finished with and that’s something he’ll need to improve on this year. Can Thiem claim a second title of 2018?
World number five Alexander Zverev will be the number two seed this week, as the German youngster looks to gain some much needed match practice ahead of the upcoming Masters events. The German has played in only two tournaments this year and so he comes into this tournament lacking match sharpness. Zverev also suffered disappointing early exits at those tournaments and so he won’t be full of confidence this week. The German needs to rediscover his top form if he’s to challenge this week. Meanwhile, Juan Martin del Potro will be looking to claim his first title of the season, as the Argentine looks to build up his fitness levels. The Argentine has returned to the world’s top ten this season and now he’ll be looking to cement that position. The former US Open champion has already reached one final this season, but he’ s struggled for form since the Australian Open. Del Potro can beat anyone on his day and he’ll be one of the favourites to win the title this week.
Meanwhile, South African Kevin Anderson is up to a career high number nine in the world following an impressive start to the season. Last year’s US Open finalist claimed the recent New York Open title in his last tournament and so he’ll come into this tournament full of confidence. Anderson was a beaten finalist here in 2014 after being edged out by Grigor Dimitrov in a three-set thriller in that final. The thirty-one-year-old will be a serious threat this week and he could very easily claim a second successive title, this time in Acapulco. Former world number four Kei Nishikori has made an impressive return from injury over the last couple of weeks, as the 2014 US Open finalist continues his search for full fitness this week. The Japanese ace reached the recent New York Open semi-finals, where he was beaten by the before mentioned Anderson, and he’ll be looking for a similar run this week. Nishikori enjoyed a run to the final here in 2015, but he was bettered by Spaniard David Ferrer on that occasion. Can Nishikori go one better this year?
Next Gen champion Hyeon Chung will be another serious challenger this week, as the South Korean ace looks to rediscover his early season form following his return from injury. The Next Gen champ reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open last month, producing a stunning performance against Novak Djokovic along the way, but he was forced to retire in his semi-final match against Roger Federer through injury. Nonetheless, Chung has been one of the form players over the last six months and he also enjoyed a quarter-final run at the Delray Beach Open on his return this past week. The South Korean ace is definitely not one to be underestimated this week. Who will see off all before them to claim the title?
Juan Martin del Potro
Juan Martin del Potro finds himself in the toughest quarter of the draw this week, but if he was to win his way through it then he would find himself in a very good position heading into the latter stages of the tournament. The Argentine is the number six seed this week and I think he has a very good chance of leaving as the champion. Del Potro is one of the very best players in the world, and if he can stay fit he’s capable of winning grand slam titles. The former US Open champion has struggled of late, but he’s more than capable of producing a fantastic week of tennis when needed and I think we’ll see that this week. I think del Potro will use his quality and experience to win through and claim his first title in 2018.
Kevin Anderson Each Way
While Rafael Nadal will be the favourite to win through his half of the draw, his recent injury concerns leave it wide open in my opinion. While a lot will ride on how fit Nadal is this week, I think Kevin Anderson could seize the opportunity and at least reach the final, if not claim the title. The South African is full of confidence right now and he comes into this event on the back of a very impressive six months. In that time Anderson has reached his first grand slam final, as well as reach a career high in the rankings. The South African also has the experience of reaching a final here in the past, something he’ll be sure to use over the next seven days. After an awful 2016 that was full of injuries Anderson has slowly been rediscovering his best tennis for some time and now he finds himself as the world number nine, something he’ll be looking to build on this week. Anderson won the title in his last tournament and he’ll be confident of winning a second successive one this week.