On this day: Rafael Nadal loses Acapulco final to Sam Querrey

In 2017, Sam Querrey enjoyed a fantastic week in Acapulco, winning his ninth ATP crown despite facing challenging obstacles right from the start. Namely, Sam had to overcome four seeds en route to his first crown since February 2016, beating David Goffin, Dominic Thiem, Nick Kyrgios and Rafael Nadal to earn his first ATP 500 title in a career. Sam became the first American to lift the trophy in Acapulco after the event started in 1993. In the final, on March 4, Querrey surprised Nadal 6-3, 7-6, firing 19 aces and winning the majority of the crucial points, including all six break chances he fended off in set number two. After losing that epic Australian Open final to Roger Federer, Rafa went to Acapulco and scored four commanding wins to secure the final place. Still, he couldn’t find his A-game against the American, facing only two break points but still finishing on the losing side after failing to impose his strokes.

Sam’s serve made a considerable difference, hitting many free winners from his initial shot alone and making Nadal uncomfortable and nervous. The American showed a real clutch in the second set’s eighth game when he saved no less than five break points. In the tie break, Querrey failed to land the first serve in, but Nadal couldn’t take advantage of that, being under constant pressure from Sam’s colossal forehand. Thus, Nadal stayed titleless since Barcelona 2016, with his last ATP title on hard court coming way back in Doha 2014! It was Nadal’s first loss to a player from the USA since Mardy Fish toppled him in Cincinnati 2011, winning the next 16 encounters against the Americans but failing to extend the streak. Both players found a nice rhythm on serve from the opening game, delivering seven comfortable holds to stay neck and neck.

Rafael Nadal lost the Acapulco 2017 final to Sam Querrey.

Sam found a way to steal Rafa’s serve in game eight, hitting two winners, including the one from the return in the final point, and embracing two significant errors from Spaniard to jump 5-3 in front. Querrey closed the opening set with another comfortable hold in game nine, smashing a forehand winner in the last point to take the opener 6-3. The American played flawless tennis and left Nadal with much work to be done in set number two if he wanted to turn the scoreboard around. After a fast and fluid opener, the second set brought more drama, with four games that went to deuce and a break chance for each player in games two and three. They repelled them to stay close to each other until game eight, when Nadal had the last opportunity to move in front, having five break chances up for grabs. Sam saved the first with an ace, and Nadal netted a straightforward backhand on the second that could have given him a significant break.

The American was far from the safe zone, but he just wasn’t to be denied. He saved two more break chances with good serves and one with a beautiful backhand attack, finally holding after another service winner that gave him a tremendous amount of boost before the set’s closing stages. Nadal could have moved ahead early in the tie break as well, unable to control Sam’s two second serves, which would prove to be very costly. Querrey ripped two forehand winners on his next two serves to keep the initial shot safe and made the first mini-break in the eighth point with a deep return that sent him 5-3 up. The American endured a rally to score another mini-break, building a 6-3 advantage and bringing the victory home in the next point when Nadal’s forehand landed long to celebrate the title.

Tennis – On March 4, 2017, the American toppled Nadal in straight sets for the ninth ATP title

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