It’s been a tough week for last year’s finalists in Acapulco, as both Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev failed to make it past the second round. For Tommy Paul, the American secured another early season milestone by earning his first Top 10 victory in four attempts on Wednesday evening, defeating world No. 7, 6-3, 6-4.
Paul raced to a 3-0 lead in the first set and never looked back, as Zverev tossed in six double faults in his first two service games. Paul didn’t play extraordinary tennis, but remained laser-focused throughout the match, and admittedly took advantage of a lackluster showing from Zverev.
“I know you guys wanted to see a lot more of Sascha,” the elated Paul said after the match. “But I played a good match and took advantage of an off day from him.”
Zverev was very off, and looked much more like the ATP Cup version of himself—where he won just a single set in three matches—rather than the Australian Open semifinal version. He was caught in point construction no-man’s-land, either pulling the trigger far too early or sometimes not at all. Paul utilized his body serve well, the best place to serve the anky 6’6” German.
Late in the second set, Zverev mentally unraveled after a series of incorrect challenges. Both players seemed to acknowledge the FoxTenn “Real Bounce” system might have been a bit wonky, as every single close call was immediately challenged by both players.
At 3-3 in the second set, Zverev stopped the point on a weak Paul return that slowly floated towards the baseline. Zverev could have won the point with a solid groundstroke, but chose to stop the point, challenge the call, and immediately berate the line judge, only to watch the ball clip the back of the line. Paul couldn’t help crack a smile at his opponent's challenging misfortunes.
After Zverev's ninth double fault handed his unseeded foe a break for a 5-4 lead, Paul had no trouble serving out the match, an area he's struggled with in the past against top players. Last summer Paul served for the first set against both Fabio Fognini and Stefanos Tsitsipas but was unable to convert.
“This feels good,” Paul said. “It’s definitely one of my biggest wins.”
Paul will face fellow American John Isner on Thursday for a spot in the semifinals. The fifth-seeded Isner fired 28 aces in his 6-3, 7-6 (4) win against compatriot Marcos Giron.
Kyle Edmund and Soonwoo Kwon also knocked out seeds. Edmund, fresh off his second ATP title at the New York Open, took down No. 4 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, 6-4, 6-4. The Canadian reached successive finals in Rotterdam and Marseille before heading to Mexico. For a spot in the semifinals, Edmund will battle Taylor Fritz, a 6-4, 6-1 winner over Ugo Humbert.
Kwon stepped on the grass to eliminate eighth seed Dusan Lajovic, 7-6 (2), 6-0, in 87 minutes. The 22-year-old Korean will square off against top seed Rafael Nadal next.
The world No. 2 advanced past Miomir Kecmanovic, 6-2, 7-5, capitalizing on five of his six break points against the Serbian. Nadal is seeking his 85th tour-level title and first since lifting his 19th Grand Slam trophy at the US Open last September over Daniil Medvedev. He previously triumphed twice in Acapulco (2005, 2013) when it was a clay-court tournament.
Seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov led a 4-1 double break lead slip in the final set of his match with Adrian Mannarino, and was later forced to save two match points when serving at 4-5, 15-40. The 2014 titlist ultimately avoided a complete collapse in prevailing, 6-7 (8), 6-2, 7-6 (2).
Dimitrov will look to snap a five-match losing streak against third seed Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals. Wawrinka beat Pedro Martinez, 6-4, 6-4, after 90 minutes of work. The Swiss is aiming to win his first title since May 2017, when he tasted victory for the second straight year on home soil in Geneva.