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Roland Garros: Rafael Nadal vs Diego Schwartzman preview, head-to-head & prediction | French Open 2020

Rafael Nadal (L) and Diego Schwartzman at the Rome Masters 2020
Rafael Nadal (L) and Diego Schwartzman at the Rome Masters 2020
Namit Kumar
ANALYST
Modified 08 Oct 2020, 16:44 IST
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Match details

Fixture: Rafael Nadal vs Diego Schwartzman

Date: 9 October 2020

Tournament: Roland Garros 2020

Round: Semifinals

Venue: Paris, France

Category: Grand Slam

Surface: Red clay

Prize money: Approx. €38,000,000

Match timing: 3 pm CEST, 6.30 pm IST

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Live telecast: USA - NBC Sports / Tennis Channel | India - Star Sports Select / Disney+ Hotstar VIP

Rafael Nadal vs Diego Schwartzman preview

12-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal looks to strengthen his bid for a record-equaling 20th Grand Slam title, as he faces Diego Schwartzman in the semifinal on Friday.

Having skipped the American hardcourt season due to health concerns, the Spaniard restarted his tennis schedule on European clay in Rome - where he lost to Schwartzman himself in the quarterfinal. Since then, however, Nadal has breezed past his relatively simple early draw in Paris.

Rafael Nadal won his first three matches without dropping a set, spending a total amount of about seven hours on court. But his sternest test came at the hands of 19-year-old Italian sensation Jannik Sinner in the quarterfinal.

Despite the seemingly straightforward scoreline of 7-6 6-4 6-1, Sinner made life very difficult for the World No. 2 with his brand of aggressive, yet intelligent tennis.

Rafael Nadal's next opponent, Argentina's Diego Schwartzman, has had a topsy-turvy 2020 season but comes into the match as one of the form players on the ATP tour.

Diego Schwartzman at the 2020 French Open
Diego Schwartzman at the 2020 French Open
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After crashing out in the first round of the US Open, Schwartzman reached the final in Rome, where he defeated the likes of Nadal and Denis Shapovalov, before bowing out to Novak Djokovic.

Like Nadal, the Argentine also had a fairly easy path up to the quarterfinal. However, his five-set epic against Dominic Thiem was a life-sapping battle that tested the patience and endurance of both men.

Schwartzman displayed some of his best defensive tennis to overcome Thiem's big hitting. He eventually prevailed 7-6 5-7 6-7 7-6 6-2 in over five grueling hours of intense shot-making to achieve the best result of his career so far.

Rafael Nadal vs Diego Schwartzman head-to-head

This match is the 11th between the two players; and Rafael Nadal leads the head-to-head 9-1 over Diego Schwartzman.

The Argentine's only win against Nadal was the remarkable 6-2 7-5 win at the Rome Masters last month, where Schwartzman himself claimed he played 'the best tennis of his life.' Apart from that one match, the World No. 2 has dominated Schwartzman on each occasion they have met.

Rafael Nadal vs Diego Schwartzman prediction

Diego Schwartzman's win over Rafael Nadal at Rome last month would have given him immense confidence coming into this encounter.

The Argentine will look to repeat what he did in that match, and also what he did against Thiem on Tuesday. Schwartzman can use his rapid footwork and ability to take the ball early to force Nadal on to the backfoot, while also taking advantage of the Spaniard's troubles hitting through the court in the heavier than usual conditions.

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Rafael Nadal at the 2020 French Open
Rafael Nadal at the 2020 French Open

Nadal was undoubtedly poor during their match in Rome, where he won only 48% of his first-serve points, but that was not his only problem. Schwartzman neutralized his forehand by engaging in long crosscourt exchanges with Nadal on the backhand wing, using excellent anticipation and varied shot-making to puzzle the Spaniard.

Many would argue, however, that the World No. 2 is much sharper since the encounter in Rome. After outlasting Sinner in style, Nadal seems more than ready to take on Schwartzman, despite the Argentine's prowess in the cold-weather conditions in Paris.

The 34-year-old still has the edge coming into the match, given his proven ability in the best-of-five format and his record at Roland Garros. Schwartzman's fitness could also be a concern after his marathon quarterfinal match.

As the Argentine proved in Rome, however, the match is unlikely to be a free ride.

Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in four sets.

Published 07 Oct 2020, 12:21 IST
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