Fixture: Rafael Nadal vs Diego Schwartzman
Date: 19 September 2020
Tournament: Italian Open 2020
Venue: Rome, Italy
Category: ATP Masters 1000
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €3,465,045
Match timing: Not Before 8.30 pm CEST, 12 am IST
Rafael Nadal vs Diego Schwartzman preview
Defending champion Rafael Nadal will look to take another step towards a 10th Rome Masters title as he faces eighth seed Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinal on Saturday.
Despite having played no competitive tennis the last six months, the Spaniard has been in superlative touch at the Italian Open this week. Nadal blew past Pablo Carreno Busta 6-1 6-1 in the second round, and continued in the same vein against Dusan Lajovic on Friday - this time winning with a scoreline of 6-1 6-3.
On the other hand, Nadal's next opponent Diego Schwartzman has struggled to regain his form since the restart of the season. The Argentine bowed out early at the Cincinnati Masters and the US Open, before losing in even more unexpected fashion to Laslo Djere in Kitzbuhel.
But Schwartzman seems to have found some semblance of momentum at the Italian Open. After defeating John Millman in straight sets in the first round, the World No. 15 prevailed 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 against Hubert Hurkacz on Friday.
The win was far from convincing though, and might have even left him winded for his encounter with Nadal.
Rafael Nadal vs Diego Schwartzman head-to-head
The meeting in Rome is the 10th between the two players, and Rafael Nadal leads the head-to-head over Diego Schwartzman by a lopsided margin of 9-0.
The two players have met each other at many different stages of their careers, including three times in 2019 alone. But Nadal has almost never had too much trouble disposing of the Argentine.
Naturally, the Spaniard has won all four of his encounters with Schwartzman on clay. That includes a memorable quarterfinal at Roland Garros 2018, where Nadal lost the first set before prevailing 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2.
Rafael Nadal vs Diego Schwartzman prediction
Given Rafael Nadal's current form and Diego Schwartzman's recent inconsistency, it is difficult to see anything but a Nadal win on Saturday. Defeating the Spaniard on clay, and especially in the Rome conditions where he boasts nine titles and over 60 match wins, seems an almost impossible task.
An argument can perhaps be made that Nadal has not been made to work hard for his wins so far this week, so he may not be fully battle-tested. Moreover, with the Argentine's dogged playing style that relies on good timing and speedy returns, Nadal's serve - which has not been the most convincing in the tournament - could possibly be exploited.
However, the King of Clay has shown that he is in top physical shape. His groundstrokes, approach shots and movement around the court have all been as good as ever, with little to no sign of rust.
If Schwartzman is to win this, he will have to take the attack to Nadal and unleash a relentless barrage of big shots from the baseline. That might be particularly tough for the Argentine given that he is coming in on the back of a physically draining match in the third round.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in straight sets.Published 19 Sep 2020, 02:20 IST