Diego Schwartzman has taken down the King of Clay in his ‘best match ever”…
The 28-year-old Argentine professional tennis player defeated former World No. 1 Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-5 in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open on Saturday.
Nadal, a nine-time champion in Rome, had never lost to the 15th-ranked Schwartzman in nine previous meetings. But Schwartzman dictated the baseline rallies and produced a series of drop-shot winners as Nadal uncharacteristically made unforced errors and struggled to get his first serve into play, as he played in his first tournament in seven months.
For two months during the lockdown, Nadal said, he didn’t touch a tennis racket.
“It’s a completely special year — an unpredictable year,” Nadal said. “At least I played three matches.’
While Nadal won his opening two matches this week in straight sets, his rustiness showed from the start against Schwartzman.
Nadal committed nearly twice as many unforced errors as Schwartzman, 30 to 17, and won only 29 of 63 points on his serve — resulting in five breaks.
“Losing that many serves, you can’t expect to win a match,” Nadal said. “So something that I have to fix. I know how to do it.”
Nadal, who chose not to play in the US Open because of travel concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic, had not played a tournament since winning a title in Acapulco, Mexico, in February. He now has one week to regroup before he attempts to win a record-extending 13th French Open title. Roland Garros starts next weekend.
“I’m going to keep working and keep practicing with the right attitude and I’m going to try to give [myself] a chance to be ready,” Nadal said.
Schwartzman came up with a series of clutch shots, perhaps none better than during the second game of the second set when he won a 17-shot rally to save a break point by running down a drop shot and passing Nadal with a forehand that landed on the line.
“It was my best match ever,” Schwartzman said.