Rafael Nadal beat Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-3 on Friday to reach the final of the ATP Mexico Open and ensure the Russian will not celebrate his rise to number one with the Acapulco trophy.
Medvedev was unable to avenge his loss to Nadal in the Australian Open final, where the Spaniard rallied from two sets down to triumph in five and claim a record-setting 21st Grand Slam singles title.
But the 26-year-old Russian departs Mexico knowing he'll move to number one in the world on Monday. He was assured of reaching the summit when Serbian star Novak Djokovic fell in the quarter-finals at Dubai on Thursday.
Nadal pushed his perfect 2022 record to 14-0, but it wasn't as simple as the scoreline might suggest.
He powered through the first set without facing a break point and broke Medvedev in the opening game of the second.
But the 35-year-old world number five found himself in trouble in the fourth game, fighting off four break points to preserve his advantage.
Medvedev pushed him again in a marathon sixth game but failed to convert any of his seven break chances. "I played some amazing points on the break points," said Nadal, who used everything in his arsenal to fend off Medvedev -- from his classic powerful forehands to aggressive forays to the net.
"The second set was very emotional," Nadal said. "Daniil was playing very aggressive — drop shots, winners. It was a very difficult set.
"I feel lucky to win that set, because he had a lot of chances."