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How Rafael Nadal can clinch world No 1 spot back from Novak Djokovic this week

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Rafael Nadal trophy

Rafael Nadal is in action at the Mexican Open this week while Novak Djokovic is competing at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Rafael Nadal has a small chance of knocking Novak Djokovic off his perch at the top of the men’s rankings this week if results go his way. Nadal has a strong chance of at least making up some ground in the rankings in Acapulco.

The Spaniard is only defending 45 points this week having lost in the Mexican Open second round to Nick Kyrgios last year.

Djokovic meanwhile didn’t compete in this week last year though and he too could take valuable points in Dubai.

Rafael Nadal face Novak Djokovic

The gap between the pair was 325 points heading into this week’s tournaments and Nadal must win in Acapulco to stand any chance of regaining his No 1 spot.

But the 33-year-old will also have to rely on Djokovic being knocked out before the final at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Djokovic faces a tough test this afternoon when he takes on Russian Karen Khachanov for a place in the semi-final.

If Djokovic does advance, an even tougher contest could await with in-form Gael Monfils expected to get past Richard Gasket.

Nadal meanwhile takes on Kwon Soon-Woo in his quarter-final match with a semi-final tie against Stan Wawrinka or Grigor Dimitrov awaiting.

The 19-time Grand Slam champion holds the record as the oldest year-end No 1 at 33 years, 211 days, but the Spaniard insists he isn’t focussing his efforts on returning to the top of the rankings.

“I have not thought about that for a long time,” Nadal said.

“My goal cannot be number one.

Rafael Nadal

“If the opportunity presents itself later, like last year, very happy about it.

“But my priorities are to be competitive as long as possible and try to extend my career as much as possible.

“For this, the calendar must be conservative, according to the needs of my body, my personal life and happiness.

“I play where it makes me happy and I have the best options to enjoy and play well.”

Both tournaments this week will act as the warm-up for the Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami next month.

Neither Djokovic or Nadal faired well in the respective tournaments last year, with the latter having to pull out of the Miami Open after withdrawing from Indian Wells.

Djokovic though failed to reach the second week of either event, suffering defeats to Philipp Kohlschreiber and Roberto Bautista Agut.

Rafael Nadal pinpoints specific bonus from win over Miomir Kecmanovic in Mexican Open
Miomir Kecmanovic

Rafael Nadal is in action at the Mexican Open ahead of the mini American hard-court swing.

Rafael Nadal has indicated his game is coming along nicely in time for the two Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami next month after sailing through to the Mexican Open third round. Nadal made light work of his first round clash against compatriot Pablo Andujar but faced a tougher test yesterday against Miomir Kecmanovic.

The young Serbian tennis star has made an impressive start to his career having registered wins over Alexander Zverev, Jack Sock and Jo-Wilfrid Tsonga to name but a few.

But Nadal proved too much for the 20-year-old with the Spaniard advancing to the quarter-finals.

Rafael Nadal and team

The 19-time Grand Slam champion has been a slow starter in some matches in recent years but that wasn’t the case this time around.

He took a 1-0 lead after just under 40 minutes and Nadal was particularly pleased at how his game looked early on.

“He’s a very dangerous player. Young, with a lot of power. I’m very pleased with the victory,” Nadal said.

“I played a very good first set and that’s important news for me. That gives me confidence.”

Kecmanovic was much more of a threat in the second set as he broke back from Nadal at 5-4 down.

His accuracy on the first serve in particular was causing Nadal problems to try and find a breakthrough.

But Nadal stood form, winning 13 out of 14 points on his first serve as Kecmanovic was unable to build upon his break back.

The world No 2 got his chance with Kecmanovic on serve with Nadal leading 6-5 and a couple unforced errors from the Serbian handed his opponent the match.

Rafael Nadal laughed

And Nadal believes he’s in a good place moving forward, with one eye on the two Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami next month.

“It’s true that I missed the opportunity to win the match with my serve at 5-4 [in the second set], but except for that, I think I played a very good match,” he added.

“I improved a lot compared to yesterday’s match. That is always positive.

“I am happy with the way I played and happy for the victory. I hope to be prepared for tomorrow.”

Nadal’s path to glory in Acapulco was made that bit easier with both Zverev and Felix Auger-Aliassime suffering surprise defeats in the second round.

He now faces Kwon Soon-Woo in the quarter-finals with either Stan Wawrinka or Grigor Dimitrov in the semi-finals.

Britain’s Kyle Edmund is in a good position to make the final as he faces American Taylor Fritz for a place in the final four.

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