© Abierto Mexicano Telcel

Rafael Nadal has won the title or reached the final in three of his four previous appearances in Acapulco.

Nadal On Acapulco: 'It's Always A Very Tough Draw Here'

World No. 2 is a two-time champion at this ATP 500

Rafael Nadal is back in action for the first time since the Australian Open at this week’s Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC. And although the World No. 2 is the top seed and a two-time former champion in Acapulco, he knows it’ll take a special effort to triumph at this ATP 500 event.

“It’s a very tough tournament. It’s one of the best tournaments of the world, one of the most beautiful tournaments of the world,” Nadal said. “That attracts the best players, so it’s always a very tough draw here. But that’s nice and that’s very positive for the tournament.”

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Nine of the Top 25 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings are in the draw, including five men who have cracked the Top 10 in their career.

Nadal has great memories in Acapulco, winning the title or reaching the final in three of his four appearances en route to a 15-2 record. The lefty’s 2005 title here was his third ATP Tour trophy, and he also triumphed in 2013, when he’d eventually finish as year-end World No. 1 for the third time. Both of his Acapulco triumphs came when the tournament was played on clay.

“This event was the biggest one until that moment that I won [in 2005]. After that I started to achieve a lot of important things. I won in Costa do Sauipe the week before and then I won here the week after,” Nadal said. “It was like the beginning of something special.

“When I won here in 2013 it was probably a key moment in my career because I came back after very long knee injury. I won in Sao Paulo, but with a lot of problems, without playing very well. But I came here and I played great again. Winning here made me feel confident again. Then I played very well in Indian Wells, too, so 2013 was even more special than 2005.”

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The event isn’t just special for Nadal because of what he’s accomplished on the court.

“[I speak the] same language. Nice people, always very friendly people. Every time that I am here I feel a little bit like [I am at] home,” Nadal said. “I enjoy being around here. I know the tournament, I know the people who organise the tournament and the crowd always has been amazing with me. So I’m very excited to be back here in Mexico. Enjoying every single moment and just hoping to be ready for the action.”

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Nadal will begin his tournament against countryman Pablo Andujar. If he wins the tournament, marking his 85th tour-level title, Nadal will force Novak Djokovic to reach the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships to retain World No. 1 next Monday. But no matter the results, the Spaniard expects to have a great time at the ATP 500 Tournament of the Year in the 2019 ATP Awards.

“I think everything is easy, everything is very close in front of the sea, inside the resort, good atmosphere, good tournament organisation,” Nadal said. “The feeling is you are not in a typical tennis tournament. You are playing a tournament, but in a holiday atmosphere. That really makes us feel great here.”

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