Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates after defeating Russia's Daniil Medvedev in a semifinal match at the Mexican Open tennis tournament in Acapulco, Mexico. (Photo: AP)
Acapulco, Mexico: Rafael Nadal beat Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-3 on Friday to reach the final of the ATP Mexico Open and insure the Russian will not celebrate his rise to number one with the Acapulco trophy.
Medvedev was unable to avenge his loss to Nadal in the Australian Open final, where the Spaniard rallied from two sets down to triumph in five and claim a record-setting 21st Grand Slam singles title.
But the 26-year-old Russian departs Mexico knowing he'll move to number one in the world on Monday. He was assured of reaching the summit when Serbian star Novak Djokovic fell in the quarter-finals at Dubai on Thursday.
Nadal pushed his perfect 2022 record to 14-0, but it wasn't as simple as the scoreline might suggest.
He powered through the first set without facing a break point and broke Medvedev in the opening game of the second.
But the 35-year-old world number five found himself in trouble in the fourth game, fighting off four break points to preserve his advantage.
Medvedev pushed him again in a marathon sixth game, but couldn't convert any of his seven break chances.
Serving to extend the match at 5-3, Medvedev took a 40-0 lead before a spate of errors, including his seventh double fault of the contest, gave Nadal an opening and allowed him to wrap it up on his second match point.
In Saturday's final, Nadal will face Cameron Norrie, who pushed his winning streak to eight straight matches with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece.
Britain's 12th-ranked Norrie, who lifted the trophy at Delray Beach last week, broke in the ninth game of each set and calmly served them out.
Tsitsipas, who reached the Rotterdam final earlier this month, had not dropped a set all week until he ran into the in-form Briton -- who faced just one break point in the match.