Australian Open champion Rafa Nadal has improved his career-best season start by winning his fourth Acapulco ATP title, the 91st title of his storied career.
The Spanish world No.5 was too good for Britain’s Cameron Norrie in the final of the ATP 500 event, winning 6-4 6-4 on Saturday.
Nadal, who first won the title in 2005 and took it again in 2013 and 2020, stormed through the Acapulco draw without dropping a set, to claim his third straight title of 2022.
The 35-year-old winner of a record 21 grand slam singles titles has now won 15 straight matches since returning from a foot issue that sidelined him for nearly six months last year.
He needs three more titles to tie Ivan Lendl’s total of 94 for third place for most tour singles titles in the Open Era. Jimmy Connors leads with 109 and Roger Federer has 103.
“I’ve always said that this kind of records needs to be measured once your career is over,” said Nadal. “Today the most important thing is that I have won a prestigious tournament.”
Against Norrie, Nadal had a break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and went on to win the first set in 51 minutes.
In the second set, Nadal had a break in the first game, but Norrie returned it and appeared to be back into the match, but the Spaniard added breaks in the fifth and seventh games to take home the trophy.
The Acapulco tournament drew four of the top-five players in the world – Daniil Medvedev (2), Alexander Zverev (3), Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) and Nadal (5).
Medvedev, who will rise to No.1 in the rankings on Monday, lost to Nadal in the semi-finals. Zverev was thrown out of the tournament for violently smashing his racket on the umpire’s chair moments after losing a doubles match, while Tsitsipas lost to Norrie in the other semi.
“(Acapulco) is a tournament that started with five of the top six players in the world, it was complicated, and I ended up taking the victory,” said Nadal.
“Looking back, a few weeks ago this would have looked impossible, it’s amazing how things can change in such a short span, from not being able to practice and now to be where I am today.”