Rafael Nadal showed everyone on Friday just why he is the undisputed king at Roland Garros.
Many expected him to be stretched in the semifinal by Diego Schwartzman, given that he had lost to the Argentine in Rome a few weeks ago. But Nadal was able to triumph in straight sets despite Schwartzman putting up a spirited fight in most rallies.
The match lasted over three hours, and Schwartzman showed some signs of a comeback late in the third set. The Spaniard, however, was able to snuff out the challenge in trademark fashion; he played a perfect tie-breaker to win 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 and advance to his 13th Roland Garros final.
That said, it looked like it would be a long day in the office when the two players took 25 minutes to compete the first two games of the match. Speaking about the match in the press conference, Schwartzman joked that he was not surprised by the length of the first couple of games.
"Well, the beginning in every single match I play against Rafael Nadal, it's always, like, 25 minutes and 1-1. I expect that before the match, so was not a surprise," Schwartzman said.
Rafael Nadal is always looking to improve, which is why he is in the final: Diego Schwartzman
Schwartzman also explained why it is so difficult to beat Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros, crediting the Spaniard's work ethic and problem-solving mindset.
"He’s always trying to find the moment to have the solutions in every single moment. At that time when I was playing better than him and finding the way maybe to go to the fourth, he did two winners and then one serve and volley. Rafa is Rafa," Schwartzman said.
"I think he knows how to improve. He knows how to practice, how to do everything. After Rome, he goes straight to practice. He went to improve the things that he did bad in Rome. That’s why he’s in the final right now,” he added.
The Argentine went on to elaborate on the differences in this match from their encounter in Rome, which he won in straight sets.
"I think a few things were different today," Schwartzman said. "He played better than Rome. He has a lot of matches right now, so it’s better for him. He improve a few things than maybe in Rome he did not so well. Maybe I did few mistakes with my backhand today. I was not really aggressive with the backhand."
"Obviously you have to do many good backhand cross, backhand to the line, to continue moving him. Maybe today I did a few mistakes trying to move the ball, trying to be aggressive. That was different in Rome also," he added.
Prior to his win over Rafael Nadal in Rome, Schwartzman had never beaten any of the Big 3. The Argentine is now a combined 1-19 against Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and he also shed light on why it is so difficult to beat the legends of the game.
"It’s different playing against Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal. Is not easy playing them five sets because you have to play your best tennis maybe for 3, 4 hours, 5 hours. To improve and to beat the best guys on tour, you have to play them and you have to beat them," Schwartzman said.
Despite the loss to Nadal, the tournament as a whole was a step in the right direction for Schwartzman. He reached his first ever Grand Slam semifinal this fortnight, after falling in the quarterfinals on three previous occasions.
With a move up to No. 8 in the rankings, Schwartzman also looks well placed to accomplish one of his other goals for the season - to qualify for the season-ending ATP Finals in London.Published 10 Oct 2020, 00:07 IST