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"My best match ever" - Schwartzman on his 'crazy' and 'unthinkable' win over Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal (L) and Diego Schwartzman at the Italian Open
Rafael Nadal (L) and Diego Schwartzman at the Italian Open
Modified 20 Sep 2020

Argentine Diego Schwartzman is 170 cm tall, which is not the usual height for an elite tennis player these days. But that hasn't stopped the Argentine from chasing his goals.

On Saturday, Schwartzman defeated Rafael Nadal in the Italian Open quarterfinals for his first career win (in 10 tries) over the the 12-time French Open champion. What makes the result even more stunning is that came on Nadal's favorite surface, and at a tournament where the Spaniard has triumphed a whopping nine times before.

After the match, Schwartzman unsurprisingly said that his win over Rafael Nadal was the biggest of his career. The Argentine then revealed that he wasn't expecting to register such a monumental result, given that he had been out of form coming into the match and also dealing with pain in his left hand.

"For sure it's my best match ever," Schwartzman said. "I played a few times against the three big champions in tennis. I never beat them until today. I'm very happy.
"Today I played my best tennis," he added. "Very similar to Roland Garros against Rafael Nadal three years ago and I'm very happy. I was not thinking to beat him really because I was not playing good [lately]. But today I did my best and I'm very happy."

Schwartzman also talked about his career-long run of futility against Rafael Nadal, where he had won a grand total of two sets in nine matches. And towards the end of the Saturday's quarterfinal, when Nadal twice broke back, Schwartzman didn't lose hope; he felt the Spaniard wouldn't be at his best in a third set due to his recent lack of match practice.

"I played against him nine times before," Schwartzman said. "Four or five times I was not close, but playing really well and close in the score, feeling well. I came to the court trying to do the same things and the first set was really, really good for me. I took every chance he gave me.
"Later, I told myself that even if I lost the second set, I will have my chance in the third, precisely because there were a lack of matches. I stayed very focused and I think that was the key," he added.

"It's sad that there was no audience" - Diego Schwartzman after beating Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal during his quarter-final match against Diego Schwartzman of Argentina at the Italian Open
Rafael Nadal during his quarter-final match against Diego Schwartzman of Argentina at the Italian Open

Schwartzman had been badly out of form since the resumption of the tour, having lost early at the Cincinnati Masters, US Open and Kitzbuhel before arriving in Rome. Moreover, he was also struggling to deal with the lack of spectators in the arena, as well as a niggle in his left hand.

All of those factors made the win over Rafael Nadal even sweeter for the Argentine, although he did express regret that there were no fans in the stands during the match.

"It's sad that there was no audience," Schwartzman said. "It's not the best tournament to beat Rafael Nadal for the first time, but now I'm focused on the semi-final. And I have to rest well because I want to go to the final.
"This victory is huge. I wasn't playing very well before I got here. I had pain in my left hand. I ramped up a bit during the week. It's crazy because if you've seen my matches in the last three weeks, it was unthinkable. Of course, it is very good for confidence and we'll see what happens next," he added.

After his win over Rafael Nadal, Schwarztman will take on Canada's Denis Shapaovalov on Sunday for a place in the final. If he wins that match too he will advance to his first ever Masters final, and if he wins the title, he will reach the top 10 for the first time in his career.

Published 20 Sep 2020, 15:18 IST
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