The Abierto Mexicano Telcel is a joint event based in Acapulco, Mexico. The 20th edition of the ATP 500 tournament will be played on clay courts and is the final outing in the ‘Golden Swing’. Each of the last five editions have been won by a Spaniard, with Nicolas Almagro winning in 2008 and 2009 and David Ferrer winning the last three. With the three top seeds all Spanish, it would be a major surprise if that record did not continue this year. The top seed will not be Rafael Nadal, but David Ferrer who has moved up to fourth in the absence of Nadal.
Ferrer opens against another Spaniard in Albert Ramos off the back of yet another title, this time in Buenos Aires, where he came from a break down in the final set to defeat Stanislas Wawrinka. Ramos was defeated in straights by Wawrinka in the same tournament last week. Lukasz Kubot moves from the hard courts of Memphis to the clay courts of Acapulco but his most recent defeat to Michael Russell was not one to inspire confidence. He plays a qualifier, as does the slumping Pablo Andujar. Andujar will be thankful that Albert Montanes has chosen not to play here, given that he has drawn him in their past two tournaments and lost both encounters. Another moving to the clay is Benoit Paire, who lost in a bizarre match with Somdev Devvarman in his last tournament. Lorenzi picked up two clay challengers at the back end of last year as well as defeating Paire in their only encounter, although that was an indoor affair.
Stanislas Wawrinka will have a chance for revenge very quickly against Ferrer should the tournament follow the seedings. The fourth seed was unfortunate to lose in three to David Ferrer and will need to get it out of his system quickly with a tie against Fabio Fognini awaiting. Fognini is yet to beat Wawrinka in four attempts and it is hard to see that changing if the Swiss carries on his form from Buenos Aires. The biggest threat in his quarter looks like David Nalbandian, who showed that he still a danger in his last two tournaments even after a massive injury layoff. Nalbandian made the final in Sao Paulo after defeating Nicolas Almagro and took the first set against Ferrer before eventually losing in three. He plays Aljaz Bedene, whom he beat in straights last year in Belgrade. Ruben-Ramirez Hidalgo is scheduled to play Santiago Giraldo in the first round but suffered a nasty looking ankle injury in Sao Paulo so there will be question marks over his health. Seventh seed Jurgen Melzer could be one to watch out for when looking at upsets, the Austrian disappointed on clay last year and continued his struggles in the Davis Cup with two much lower ranked Kazakhs defeating him in three and four sets respectively. Melzer plays Joao Sousa, who has struggled to begin the season and was dispatched comfortably by Del Bonis in Buenos Aires last week.
Since his astonishing defeat of Rafael Nadal in Vina del Mar, Horacio Zeballos has fallen back down to earth with two straight first round exits against Paul Capdeville and Aljaz Bedene. Simone Bolelli could be a similarly tough opponent given his improved form after a disappointing 2012. Defeated by the eventual winner in both Vina del Mar and Sao Paulo, Carlos Berlocq begins against Daniel Gimeno-Traver who he holds a 4-0 head to head over. Nicolas Almagro gets drawn against the final Mexican wildcard and another who is outside the top 400 in Cesar Ramirez. Ramirez won just two games against the now retired Juan Ignacio Chela here last year. An all-Spanish affair is very possible in round two with Tommy Robredo showing some good form in Buenos Aires. He took an early break against Ferrer in the semi final before a straight sets defeat and will play Filippo Volandri first.
Rafael Nadal has an extremely kind draw to ease him into the semi finals. He begins with a qualifier and then either another qualifier or Daniel Garza. Garza is a Mexican wildcard ranked outside the top 400 and won just four games against Lukasz Kubot as a wildcard last year. Qualifiers that Nadal could play include Argentines Martin Alund and Diego Schwartzman. Another Mexican wildcard in Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela plays Leonardo Mayer. Reyes-Varela is outside the top 600 and rarely ventures on to the Challenger tour, never mind the main ATP Tour. The other seed in Nadal’s quarter is the slumping Thomaz Bellucci, who will be no gimme to beat the talented Andrey Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov fought well against Almagro before losing in straight sets while Bellucci lost in three to Diego Schwartzman. With Ferrer and Almagro in the draw, it should give a clearer idea of what level Nadal is currently at right now.