ACAPULCO, Mexico — Rafael Nadal ran his Mexican Open winning streak to 13 matches Thursday night, beating Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 7-6 (2), 6-3 to reach the semifinals.
The tournament winner in 2005 and 2013, Nadal needed almost two hours to finish off Nishioka. The 30-year-old Spanish star overcame a 4-2 deficit in the first set and got out of a 0-2 hole in the second
“Every game here is special. I did not play my best tennis, but that’s why it has a merit,” Nadal said. “I played great the previous rounds and today I was able to get over a tough situation. I’m happy to be in the semifinals, that’s great news.”
Nadal will face third-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia. Cilic advanced when American Steve Johnson withdrew because of a right ankle injury.
Nadal is playing in his first tournament since losing to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final. The Spaniard leads the series against Cilic 3-1, but they haven’t played since the Basel quarterfinals in 2015, when Nadal won 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.
“He’s one of the toughest rivals in the world, he has a great serve and is very aggressive,” Nadal said. “I will have to play so much better than today if I want to have a shot. It’s a big match. I hope to be prepared for it.”
Johnson was injured in his match against his countryman Ernesto Escobedo late Wednesday.
Later, American Sam Querrey knocked out defending champion Dominic Thiem 6-1, 7-5 to set up a semifinal against the winner of the late match between top-seeded Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios.
Querrey reached the semifinals for the second year in a row. In 2016 he lost to Thiem, but this time, the American got the win in just 66 minutes a day after taking down Belgian David Goffin, 11th in the ATP rankings.
Querrey ended Thiem’s seven-match winning streak
“I felt great the last couple of day and I kept it up today. I stayed aggressive the whole game and served great when it counted,” Querrey said. “I really like playing here.”
On the women’s side, top-seeded Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia beat France’s Pauline Parmentier 6-2, 6-3. Lucic-Baroni will face seventh-seeded Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine, a 6-3, 7-6 (5) winner over third-seeded Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.
American Christina McHale beat Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig 6-2, 6-2. The fifth-seeded McHale, in her second straight semifinal round in Acapulco, will play second-seed Kristina Mladenovic of France. Mladenovic beat Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens 6-4, 6-3.