Rafa Nadal plays surging Sam Querrey for Mexican Open title

Christina Mchale, from the U.S., returns to France's Kristina Mladenovic during a semifinal match of the Mexican Tennis Open in Acapulco, Mexico, Friday March 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Enric Marti)

ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) Rafael Nadal routed Marin Cilic 6-1, 6-2 Friday night to advance to the Mexican Open final against Sam Querrey.

Seeking his first title this season and 70th overall, Nadal ran his Mexican Open winning streak to 14 matches. He won the event in 2005 and 2013, when it was played on clay.

Nadal will face the American Querrey, a 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 winner over Australian Nick Kyrgios.

The sixth-ranked Spaniard, playing his first tournament since losing to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final, last won a hardcourt title in January 2014 in Doha.

”You need to have a great day to get a result like this against Cilic,” Nadal said. ”Anytime you play against someone like Cilic you expect to suffer in a tight match, but it was not like that. I believe that he had his chances, but I played a good game”.

In the late game, the 40th-ranked Querrey continued an inspired week in which he defeated No. 11 David Goffin, No. 9 Dominic Thiem and now No. 17 Kyrgios, who upset second-ranked Novak Djokovic on Thursday.

Querrey ended Thiem’s seven-match winning streak.

”It does not get any easier tomorrow, it will be the toughest test,” Querrey said. ”I played great today, but I need to play even better tomorrow to beat Nadal”.

The American will try to win his ninth title, and first since Delray Beach in 2016. Querrey is 0-4 against Nadal.

In the women’s semifinal, second-seed Kristina Mladenovic of France beat American Christina McHale 7-5, 4-6, 6-2. Ukraine’s Lesiia Tsurenko led top-seeded Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia 5-0 when Lucic-Baroni retired because of a stomach virus.