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. Watch Live
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.
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
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.
Despite the Spaniard’s decision to skip the US Open due to coronavirus concerns, he has only dropped six games so far in the tournament, beating Carreno Busta 6-1 6-1 and reigning Umag champion Dusan Lajovic 6-1 6-3.
After being out of action for over six months, Nadal has returned in fine form on his favourite surface and admitted that he is playing ‘much better than expected’, sending an ominous warning to his Argentinian opponent.
The nine-time champion has been dominant in Rome, appearing in 15 of 16 potential quarter finals in his career, with his last defeat coming in the 2017 edition against US Open Champion Dominic Thiem.
Unlike Rafael Nadal, the World No 15 has struggled to rediscover his form following the resumption after a shock defeat to Cameron Norrie in the US Open before losing unexpectedly to Serbian Laslo Djere in Kitzbuhel last week.
However, Schwartzman seems to have gathered momentum this week, beating Australian John Millman in straight sets 6-4 7-6(1) before recovering from a set down to overcome Hubert Hurkacz 3-6 6-2 6-4 to book his quarter final berth.
The Argentinian No 1 reached the semi-final last year after defeating Matteo Berrettini and Kei Nishikori before losing an epic three-setter against Novak Djokovic in the semi final. To reach the same stage this year, Schwartzman will need to beat the Spaniard for the first time after failing in his previous nine attempts, halting Nadal’s 12-match unbeaten run at the tournament.
The last meeting between the pair on this surface was in the French Open quarter final in 2018, with the World No 15 taking a surprise opening set before the 12-time Roland Garros champion prevailed, conceding just seven games in the following three sets.