Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 8 April 2020

'I couldn't be happier': Rafael Nadal wins first title of 2020 after cruising past Taylor Fritz in Acapulco

World No 2, playing in his first tournament since losing in the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, didn't drop a set all week and improved to 19-2 all-time at the ATP Mexico Open

Spain's Rafael Nadal Rafael Nadal wearing a sombrero holds the trophy after winning the Mexican Tennis Open ATP final match against USA's Taylor Fritz during the Mexico ATP Open men's singles tennis final in Acapulco, Guerrero state on February 29, 2020. / AFP / PEDRO PARDO
Spain's Rafael Nadal Rafael Nadal wearing a sombrero holds the trophy after winning the Mexican Tennis Open ATP final match against USA's Taylor Fritz during the Mexico ATP Open men's singles tennis final in Acapulco, Guerrero state on February 29, 2020. / AFP / PEDRO PARDO

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.

Nadal, 33, playing in his first tournament since losing in the quarter-finals 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.

Nadal survived 10 aces from Fritz and broke the service three times to outperform the 22-year-old American.

"I couldn't be happier. I played a great event from the beginning to the end," Nadal told reporters.

"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 eight unforced errors and needed just one ace but it came in the final game of the second 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 Duty Free Tennis Championships.

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 eight 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 four 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 second set, including the fifth 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.

Fritz is the only American besides Sam Querrey in 2017 to reach the final in Acapulco.

Despite the defeat, Fritz reached his first final at an ATP 500 event.

"He's one of the best players to ever play the game and he showed me why that is tonight," Fritz said.

"This is one of my favourite tournaments to come to every year. I'm just glad that I could have a good week at one of my favourite events. I felt a lot of love all week."

In the women's final, seventh seeded Heather Watson captured her first WTA title in three years by grinding out a 6-4, 6-7, 6-1 win over Canadian teen Leylah Fernandez.

The persistent Fernandez, of Filipino and Ecuadorean descent, survived nine championship points before finally succumbing to the Brit in the two hour, 46 minute marathon.

Updated: March 1, 2020 10:40 AM

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