Alex de Minaur drew the difficult assignment of playing the lone Mexican in the singles draw at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC on Tuesday night. Facing 17-year-old wild card Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez and his home fans on the stadium court, the Aussie expertly navigated the tricky task with a 6-1, 6-2 victory.
The eighth seed fired 25 winners in the match and saved the lone break point he faced, which came as he held for 5-2 in the second set. Pacheco Mendez grew into the match with the support of the Acapulco crowd, but could not overcome quick starts by De Minaur in both sets, with the Aussie breaking at the first opportunity in each.
“Its never easy, especially first match at a new tournament,” de Minaur said after the one-hour, 16-minute victory. “These conditions are tricky. The opponent was tricky. I’m very happy with the performance, happy with the win, Hopefully we can build on that and go better and bigger for the next round.”
De Minaur brought up match point with a belted backhand winner, then sealed the deal with an extraordinary defensive effort, his scrambling ultimately leading to a forehand miss from his opponent.
With the victory, he improved to 8-4 on the season. After reaching the Australian Open fourth round (l. to Djokovic), De Minaur advanced to consecutive quarter-finals in Rotterdam and Marseille before arriving in Acapulco.
“I think I had a really good start [to the season] and the plan is to build on it and finish the way I started, or even push a little bit more,” he said. “I’m happy with where my level’s at and I’m just trying to keep on pushing, keep trying to get better and get the most out of myself.”
The 24-year-old will next face Italy’s Jacopo Berrettini, brother of Matteo Berrettini. After qualifying for his first ATP Tour main draw this week, Jacopo scored his first tour-level singles win in front of a packed crowd on Court 1. The Italian led Oscar Otte 3-6, 7-6(3), 2-1 when the German retired with an apparent knee injury.
De Minaur is expecting a tough matchup against Berrettini, who recovered after dropping a 6-0 opening set in his opening qualifying match.
“I’ve been watching him this tournament. He’s been playing some great tennis, obviously played way above his ranking,” De Minaur said of the World No. 842. “He’s going to be confident, he’s going to be a very tough match and I’m ready for a battle.”
Matteo also advanced via retirement on Tuesday when Alex Molcan pulled out of their match with the Italian up 6-0, 1-0. The Netflix Break Point star will meet lucky loser Elias Ymer in the last 16 after the Swede defeated Adrian Mannarino 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.
Brandon Nakashima and Mackenzie McDonald also advanced to set up an all-American a second-round meeting. Nakashima beat Daniel Altmaier 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 on the stadium court, while McDonald downed Luciano Darderi 6-4, 6-2 on the Grandstand.