‘Rafael Nadal victory was a confidence boost,’ Diego Schwartzman recalls

Diego Schwartzman has won only one title in the previous two seasons, alongside three losses in the finals. Diego finished inside the top-10 for the first time in a career in 2020 thanks to notable results in Rome and Paris. Schwartzman was the finalist at Foro Italico, scoring his first victory over Rafael Nadal in the quarter-final. The Argentine needed two hours and three minutes to dethrone Nadal at Foro Italico, securing the first victory over the king of clay following nine straight defeats. Diego notched a 6-2, 7-5 triumph after taking advantage of Rafa’s struggles with conditions, as he never felt comfortable. Diego secured five breaks from 54% of the return points on his tally and got broken twice to emerge at the top in style.

The Argentine had 31 winners and 17 unforced errors, taming his strokes nicely and outplaying the Spaniard in the most extended rallies. Nadal held with a forehand down the line winner in the first game, and Schwartzman found the rhythm in game two for a hold at 15. A serve & volley combo clinched the third game for the Spaniard, who wasted a break chance in the next one following a loose forehand. With dynamic and aggressive striking, Schwartzman earned three break chances at 2-2 with a forehand down the line winner. He converted the first with a forehand crosscourt winner to build the advantage. The Argentine confirmed the lead with a volley winner in the next one, controlling the rallies and finding an open space to outplay powerless Nadal.

Diego Schwartzman defeated Rafael Nadal in straight sets in Rome 2020.

With no solutions, Rafa got broken in game seven following a poor drop shot and sprayed a backhand mistake at 2-5 to hand the opener to Diego. With momentum on his side, the Argentine forged two break chances at the beginning of the second set with a backhand crosscourt winner, wasting them and landing a backhand wide to hand the game to Nadal. Schwartzman produced fantastic quickness and skills in the second game to save a break chance, gain a boost and hold at love with a drop shot winner to lock the result at 2-2. Nadal delivered another masterclass serve & volley combo in game five to repel a break chance and bring the game home to remain in touch.

Diego held at 15 in game six thanks to a backhand down the line winner and broke Rafa a few minutes later when the Spaniard opted for another terrible drop shot. Turning on his fighting spirit, Nadal pulled the break back with a smash winner and leveled the score at 4-4. Not looking back, Diego grabbed a break at love with a forehand down the line winner in game nine and served for the victory. Refusing to surrender, Nadal broke back at love to extend the clash, struggling but giving his everything to turn the tables around. With nothing working his way behind the initial shot, the Spaniard suffered a break at 15 when Schwartzman landed a backhand winner, and the Argentine served for the victory for the second time. Rafa placed a forehand wide in that 12th game to offer a match point to his rival, and Schwartzman converted it with a volley winner to seal the deal and move into the last four.

“Victory over Rafael Nadal in Rome gave me confidence and helped me pass the next obstacle in Denis Shapovalov. I had to dig deep against the Canadian, staying focused and keeping a positive spirit. Those two wins are among the best of my career,” Diego Schwartzman said.