Defending champion David Ferrer returns to lead the Abierto Mexicano Telcel field at Acapulco, taking on Australian John Millman in the opening round on Tuesday night.
Watch and bet on David Ferrer v John Millman Abierto Mexicano Telcel tennis live from Acapulco at 365. Their first round showdown gets underway at 8.00pm local time on Tuesday (2.00am BST, Wednesday).
Ferrer is aiming to create a slice of history for himself this week in the Mexican coastal city of Acapulco. Having captured the Acapulco title in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015, Ferrer is looking to become the first player to reign supreme at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel on five occasions. The Spaniard is currently equal on four titles with Thomas Muster, with the Austrian legend winning the first four editions of the tournament without dropping a set in any of his finals in 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996. Ferrer will also be striving to maintain the Spanish dominance of the event, with seven of the last eight champions hailing from Spain (Grigor Dimitrov in 2014 being the exception).
It’s looking like it will be a tough challenge for Ferrer to secure his fifth Acapulco crown however. Apart from a superb run to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, Ferrer has struggled in all of the events he’s contested so far in 2016. Opening the season with surprise defeats to Illya Marchenko and Jack Sock in Doha and Auckland respectively, Ferrer appeared to have turned a corner in Melbourne where he was the only man to reach the last eight without dropping a set, including wins over Lleyton Hewitt and John Isner. With the Golden Swing to commence immediately after, it was looking like Ferrer was in for another successful February on tour.
However things haven’t gone to plan so far. Ferrer suffered a shock loss to Nicolas Almagro in the semi-finals of the Argentina Open - a man who he had defeated in 15 prior meetings. Ferrer then headed to Rio de Janeiro hoping to defend his ATP 500 title from last season, but after shaky wins in his opening two rounds he was upstaged 6-3 6-2 in the quarter-finals by Dominic Thiem.
Slipping two spots to World No. 8 after failing to defend his title, Ferrer now risks dropping further down the ranks if he loses early during his attempted title defence of Acapulco. First up for Ferrer on Tuesday night is the ever-improving Australian John Millman.
John Millman (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Widely regarded as one of the nicest players on tour, Millman is quickly earning a reputation as one of the biggest globe-trotters to start 2016. The 26-year-old has played every week of the year so far, beginning his season in Chennai, before quickly darting back to his home country for the Apia International in Sydney and the Australian Open in Melbourne.
After posting his career-best result at a Grand Slam by reaching the third round in Melbourne (lost to Bernard Tomic), Millman immediately jetted over to Europe where he backed up that run by advancing to the quarter-finals in Montpellier, where he squared off against three Frenchman, beating Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin before falling to Paul-Henri Mathieu. Memphis was the next destination for Millman on the ATP World Tour, as he registered an opening round win over Austin Krajicek before going down to eventual semi-finalist Benjamin Becker. Millman then contested the Delray Beach Open last week, where he exited in the opening round after going down in a tight 6-3 5-7 7-6(8) loss to Steve Johnson. Perhaps the full week’s break after that loss to this first round clash in Acapulco will have allowed Millman to recharge the batteries.
Millman however knows better than anyone what his body can handle after being plagued by several serious injury troubles throughout his stop-start career. Persistent shoulder and back problems caused Millman to fall outside the top 1000 just two years ago. However a fantastic attitude to competition and a determination to succeed has seen the Aussie reach his current career-high ranking of No. 61 - a decade after he first turned pro.
Playing his best tennis on hardcourts, Millman has the ability to push the best players in the world. He’s taken sets off the likes of Roger Federer and Andy Murray at his home event of Brisbane in the past, and if Ferrer is not at his best, Millman could easily make him pay on Tuesday night.