Rafael Nadal advances to Acapulco semifinals

Spain's Rafael Nadal serves to Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka during a quarterfinal match at the Mexican Tennis Open in Acapulco, Mexico, Thursday, March 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Enric Marti)

ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) Rafael Nadal ran his Mexican Open winning streak to 13 matches Thursday night, beating Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 7-6 (2), 6-3 to reach the semifinals.

The tournament winner in 2005 and 2013, Nadal needed almost two hours to finish off Nishioka. The 30-year-old Spanish star overcame a 4-2 deficit in the first set and got out of a 0-2 hole in the second

”Every game here is special. I did not play my best tennis but that’s why it has a merit,” Nadal said. ”I played great the previous rounds and today I was able to get over a tough situation. I’m happy to be in the semifinals, that’s great news.”

Nadal will face third-seed Marin Cilic, the Croatiam who advanced when American Steve Johnson withdrew because of a right ankle injury.

Nadal, who is playing in his first tournament since losing to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final, leads the series against Cilic 3-1, but they haven’t played since the Basel quarterfinals in 2015, when Nadal won 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

”He’s one of the toughest rivals in the world, he has a great serve and is very aggressive,” Nadal said. ”I will have to play so much better than today if I want to have a shot. It’s a big match. I hope to be prepared for it.”

Johnson was injured in his match against his countryman Ernesto Escobedo late Wednesday.

On the women’s side, American Christina McHale beat Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig 6-2, 6-2. The fifth-seed McHale, in her second straight semifinal round in Acapulco, will second-seed Kristina Mladenovic of France. Mladenovic beat Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens 6-4, 6-3.