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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday February 26, 2022

 
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal edged Cameron Norrie in straight sets to claim his 91st career title on Saturday night in Acapulco.

Photo Source: Guillermo Sanchez

Rafael Nadal’s dreamy start to the 2022 campaign continues to surpass expectations. Like a big wave surfer the Spaniard rode the wave of his Australian Open title into Acapulco and never skipped a beat as he completed his fourth title run at the Abierto Telcel without dropping a single set on Saturday night, defeating Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie, 6-4 6-4.

Tennis Express

21-time Grand Slam champion Nadal, who is both the youngest (at 18, in 2005) and oldest (this year at 35) champion in tournament history, demonstrated why the current version of himself may be as good or even better than any other iteration.

During his splendid week he engineered a gritty takedown of soon to be World No.1 Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals, saving all 11 break points that he faced in the second set, in a victory that was nearly impressive as his dramatic comeback from two sets down against the rising Russian in the Australian Open final last month.

It was impressive in execution and, perhaps more impressively, spirit.

After missing the final four months of the 2021 season due to a foot injury, Nadal has stepped out of his injury cloud and into a temporal bliss. With his body behaving, he has found the joy of competition once again. He wasn’t sure that it would be there for his this year, and in January informed the public about difficult discussions with his team that were conducted late last year when his rehab simply would not get on track.

But he has weathered that storm and found the magic in his game.


That magical quality was apparent during Saturday’s final against Norrie, a hard-nosed player who pushed Nadal early and often, but was always a half-step behind the great Spaniard.

Nadal did struggle temporarily in the second set, when he was broken twice, but always it seemed that the grand champion had the capacity to pull a rabbit out of his hat and create a magic moment when the situation called for it. Soon, despite an early trade of breaks, the tone of the second set changed and Nadal took it from 1-2 to 5-2 in a blink.

Norrie would break again, for 3-5, and hold for 4-5, but he could do nothing when Nadal served for the match a second time and the Spaniard closed out his 25th hard court title in one hour and 53 minutes.

It was his third title of the season, and as he donned the customary sombrero for the fourth time, his smile was wide, his eyes were alive and it felt like his unbeaten streak could go on for quite some time.

 

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