Rafael Nadal will take on his Monday practice partner, Stefan Kozlov, for a spot in the Acapulco quarterfinals on Wednesday evening.
Rafael Nadal and Stefan Kozlov have never played a professional tennis match against each other. And yet, despite that lack of playing history, they have collectively had quite the first few days in Acapulco. Kozlov, the world No. 130, is actually fortunate to be playing in the event at all. He lost in the final round of qualifying, but the last-minute withdrawal of Maxime Cressy opened up a spot.
The American already had an eventful post-qualies adventure. Kozlov reportedly took a wave runner into the ocean, but a mishap with the machine left him stranded for 20 minutes waiting for rescue.
Despite his assumed ouster from the tournament, he still elected to practice with Nadal on Monday evening. In the middle of practice, Kozlov received a text message from tournament officials informing him that he had gained entrance to the main draw – and his match was in 20 minutes. He scurried away from the practice court in enough time to contest his match against Dimitrov.
Whether it was the ocean stranding, or practice with Nadal, or both, Kozlov’s legs cramped painfully (and visibly) against Dimitrov.
Despite a notable inability to do more than jab his racket out at balls for part of the match, Kozlov defeated Dimitrov in a three-set marathon. During his post-victory celebration, he wrote this on the camera:
Unlike the rest of the draw, Nadal has enjoyed a relatively drama-free start to the tournament – although the Australian Open champion did catch a baby sea turtle making its way back to the ocean.
Given Kozlov’s state after the Dimitrov match, he is not likely to have much left in the tank to give Nadal much resistance. Expect the 21-time major champion to make short work of the lucky loser.
Cheryl pick: Nadal in 2
Ricky pick: Nadal in 2