‘Rafael Nadal hasn’t been away that long’, says Top 10

Despite not winning an ATP title, Diego Schwartzman finished the 2020 season inside the top 10 for the first time. Following early losses in Cincinnati, the US Open and Kitzbuhel, Diego showed his A game in Rome, beating Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals and prevailing over Denis Shapovalov in the semifinals to advance to the title clash against Novak Djokovic. Speaking about those matches, Schwartzman said they are among his best wins, gaining confidence after a win over Rafa and using that momentum to prevail over the Canadian. The Argentine needed two hours and three minutes to dethrone Nadal at the Foro Italico, securing the first victory over the king of clay after nine defeats in a row. Diego managed a 6-2, 7-5 win after taking advantage of Rafa’s difficulties with conditions, as he never felt comfortable. Diego secured five breaks of 54% of the payback points on his account and broke twice to prevail. The Argentine had 31 winners and 17 unforced errors, mastering his blows very well and beating the Spaniard in the longest rallies to seal the deal in straight sets. In the fourth game of the first match, Diego saved a break opportunity and had the advantage after that, adding five consecutive games and closing the set with breaks in games five and seven. Nadal sustained with a forehand down the line in Game 1, and Schwartzman found the rhythm in game two to keep it at 15. A serve and volley combo secured the third game for the Spaniard, who blew a break opportunity in the next. him following a loose forehand. With dynamic and aggressive punches, Schwartzman got three break point opportunities at 2-2 with a forehand down the line and converted the first with a cross forehand.

Nadal is famous for his resilience

Olympic gold medalist Alexander Zverev feels Roger Federer, 41, will have a harder time making a comeback than Rafael Nadal, 35, because of their age difference. “With Rafa it will be a bit easier than with Roger since Rafa hasn’t been away that long and he is five years younger than Roger,” said Zverev. “Roger has already achieved many things where we said: That’s not possible. That’s why I wouldn’t write him off. It won’t be easy, but tennis changes and becomes faster. At some point, this is no longer easy. “There is no bigger Roger fan than me, but I don’t know how easy it is to make another comeback at almost 41 years after a knee surgery,” he added. Echoing Zverev’s sentiments, six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker said it’s “unrealistic” to think Federer can recapture his best form when he returns to the tour. “With Federer we all don’t dare to say that he might not play any more, especially since it’s unrealistic that you can return to the top of the world after such a long break and at this age,” he said. “I am the last one to say Roger should stop but it has to be realistic.”