ACAPULCO, Mexico – Argentine Juan Martin del Potro used his veteran knowhow to handily defeat second-seeded German Alexander Zverev 6-4, 6-2 and advance to Saturday’s final of the Mexican Open, a hard-court tennis event in this Pacific resort city.
The sixth-seeded Del Potro served with precision from the outset and wasted no time in making an impression on the world No. 5’s service games, seizing control of the match by breaking Zverev in the third game of the first set.
The 29-year-old Argentine is known for his tremendous power on the forehand side, but it was his backhand slice and game plan of taking the pace off the ball that was the difference in Friday night’s semifinal.
The use of the slice, a shot Del Potro has been forced to master due to numerous surgeries on his left wrist, seemed to fluster Zverev and neutralize his normally potent topspin backhand.
Zverev sought treatment for knee pain after the fifth game, but even though the German appeared to be moving around the court unhindered he was unable to get the break back and dropped the first set in 46 minutes.
The 20-year-old German’s frustration then boiled over at the start of second set when he broke his racquet after dropping serve in the third game.
The ninth-ranked Argentine kept his focus and wrapped up the surprisingly easy victory with a varied plan of attack: net approaches, soft drop shots and shots close to the line.
Zverev had a chance to get level in the second set, but Del Potro snuffed out that opportunity when he rallied from 0-30 down to hold serve in the sixth game and go up 4-2.
Things then went from bad to worse for the German in the ensuing game as Del Potro grabbed a double-break lead when Zverev dumped a backhand in the net.
Serving up 5-2, the Argentine sealed his victory with an ace on match point against an opponent who had stopped fighting and appeared to be experiencing more knee pain.
Next up for Del Potro in Saturday night’s final will be big-serving, fifth-seeded South African Kevin Anderson, who defeated American Jared Donaldson 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in Friday’s first semifinal.
In the women’s singles, Ukrainian No. 7 seed and defending champion Lesia Tsurenko advanced to the final with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over third-seeded Australian Daria Gavrilova.
She will square off in Saturday’s final against unseeded Swiss Stefanie Voegele, who topped Swedish qualifier Rebecca Peterson 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the semis.