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Nadal vs Mischa Zverev ATP Acapulco Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Nadal faces struggling Zverev in Acapulco opener

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 26 Feb 2019
  • Rafael Nadal vs Mischa Zverev is live from Acapulco on Tuesday, 26 February from 7:30pm local time/ 1:30am GMT (Wednesday morning)
  • Nadal leads 2-0 on head-to-head
Rafael Nadal. (Photo by Jonathan DiMaggio/Getty Images)

World No. 2, Rafael Nadal begins his bid for a third Acapulco crown when he takes in Germany's Mischa Zverev in the first round on Tuesday. 

Nadal won the Acapulco title in 2005 and 2013, when the tournament was played on clay, but he is yet to go all the way since the event switched from clay to hard courts from the 2014 season. To be fair, he has made just one appearance since then, in 2017, when he was beaten by Sam Querrey in the championship match. 

That remains his only defeat in Acapulco, as the great Spaniard has amassed a 14-1 record from his three visits to the Abierto Mexicano Telcel.

The 32-year-old is looking to claim his 81st career title this week, but a first since winning the Rogers Cup in Toronto last August. He hasn't played much tennis since August, in truth, as his only tournaments since then have been the 2018 US Open and the 2019 Australian Open. He retired from his US Open semi-final against Juan Martin del Potro due to a knee injury, and didn't play again for the rest of the year through a combination of knee, abdominal and ankle problems, the latter requiring surgery.

Initially scheduled to start the new season in Brisbane, Nadal pulled out due to a thigh problem, but he finally got going again at the Australian Open, unveiling a brand new service motion as he blasted his way to the final, before being outplayed by the brilliant Novak Djokovic in a lop-sided title match.

Back in action in Acapulco, the Spaniard must navigate a tough draw if he is too go all the way. If he gets past Mischa Zverev in the first round, his path to the final could read Nick Kyrgios in the second, Stan Wawrinka in the quarter finals, John Isner in the semis, and a final against second seed, Alexander Zverev.

All of that will be sorted out in the course of the week, but his first assignment in Mexico is to take down Mischa Zverev on Tuesday.

Mischa Zverev. (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)
Zverev is playing just his second match of the year, with his only other appearance on the tour in 2019 coming at the Australian Open, where he was beaten by Australian young gun, Alexei Popyrin in straight sets.

The German has not won a tour level match since beating Damir Dzumhur in the first round in Cincinnati last August, as he ended the 2018 season on a seven-match losing streak, dropping to a year-end ranking of 69th as a result.

Before his recent slide down, Zverev had enjoyed a profitable couple of seasons, particularly in 2017 when he  reached a career-high ranking of 25th in July that year. He also made the quarter finals of the Australian Open, the fourth round of the US Open, and secured a year-end ranking of 33rd- the first time he would finish a season inside the top 40. 

2018 was not as successful, but he did claim a maiden career title in Eastbourne, beating Lucas Lacko in the final. The German didn't have much joy elsewhere, with his only other quarter final coming in Atlanta, while he made the third round in Monte Carlo and Roland Garros. Every other result was either a first round or second round defeat, and he finished the year with six consecutive first round exits.

That streak extended to seven straight first round exits when he fell to Popyrin at the Australian Open, and as he hasn't played since then, his ranking has taken a further tumble, with the left-hander currently at No. 76 in the world.

As he is badly out of form, and has played very little tennis this year, it's difficult to see how he'll trouble Nadal on Tuesday. The head-to-head doesn't help either, as he is 0-2 against the great Spaniard, losing 6-1 6-1 in Brisbane in 2017, and 6-4 6-3 in Acapulco a few weeks later.

Zverev isn't going to match Nadal from the back of the court, which leaves his only chance of pulling off an improbable victory on the service line and at the net. He is a natural server-and-volleyer, and is very competent in the forecourt, but except he serves exceptionally well and sticks everything away at the net, he could become a sitting duck. 

Zverev has not won a match in a while, and that is extremely unlikely to change when he plays Rafael Nadal on Tuesday.

Rafael Nadal vs Mischa Zverev is live from Acapulco on Tuesday, 26 February from 7:30pm local time/ 1:30am GMT (Wednesday morning)

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Nadal vs Mischa Zverev ATP Acapulco Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Nadal faces struggling Zverev in Acapulco opener

Rafael Nadal starts his quest for a third Acapulco crown on Tuesday as he takes on German left-hander, Mischa Zverev. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online

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