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Diego Schwartzman in 2020: Top 10 breakthrough, best year yet
Having broken into the top 10, made his first Grand Slam semi-final and qualified for the ATP Finals for the first time, Diego Schwartzman will look back on 2020 as the best year of his career so far.
Good things come to those who wait. In his seventh full year on the Tour, Diego Schwartzman achieved a number of firsts and ends 2020 at No 9, having briefly hit a career-high ranking of No 8 when he qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals.
- Ranking at end of 2019: 14
- Ranking at end of 2020: 8
- 2020 Win/Loss: 25-12
Best performance: Reaching the final in Rome
Until arriving in the quarter-finals in Rome, Schwartzman’s record against Rafael Nadal stood at 0-9 and the Argentinian had won just two sets in that time. But on a humid, heavy night at the Foro Italico, Nadal’s ability to hit through the court was blunted and Schwartzman, chasing down everything and giving back more than he received, produced the best performance of his career, his 6-2, 7-5 victory a major breakthrough, mentally. He played well in the final, too, pushing Novak Djokovic in a tight first set and though he lost, the confidence he gained was enormous.
Diego Schwartzman gets one of the biggest wins of his life, beats 9 times champion Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-5 to reach the semifinals in Rome for a 2nd straight year.
He will face Denis Shapovalov tomorrow night.
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) September 19, 2020
Best performance in a Grand Slam: Reaching the semi-finals at Roland-Garros
Schwartzman took his Rome form to Paris where even a change in conditions did not affect his form. A brilliant quarter-final win over Dominic Thiem was the highlight but a rematch with Nadal in the semis proved a step too far as the Spaniard made some crucial adjustments from Rome to secure the win.
Titles: None…but he reached the Nitto ATP Finals
It’s strange that his best year should not yield a title but consistency is everything when it comes to rankings and Schwartzman’s strong performances, week-in, week out, secured him a place in the season-ending ATP Finals for the first time. Yes, he didn’t win a match should not take away from the effort of making it.
London 🔥✅🤙 pic.twitter.com/PvFHn6ezWR
— diego schwartzman (@dieschwartzman) November 13, 2020
High point: Beating Thiem at Roland-Garros
Thiem was expected to be the biggest threat to Nadal in Paris, coming soon after his first Grand Slam title at the US Open. But a gruelling victory over Frenchman Hugo Gaston in the previous round left Thiem a little depleted and Schwartzman pushed him and pulled him around the court, coming from two sets to one down, snatching the fourth on a tiebreak and running away with the fifth to reach his first slam semi-final.
Low point: First-round loss at US Open
For two sets, Schwartzman looked like he would cruise through to round two against Cameron Norrie. But the Scot stormed back to take the third and fourth sets, only to fall 5-3 down as again the Argentinian took control. But against the odds, Schwartzman collapsed and Norrie, saving two match points, won the last four games to record one of the best victories of his career.
On social media: Fun, success and support from home
Tennis is hugely popular in Argentina and the country’s tennis players are always quick with their messages of support. And so as Schwartzman was busy doing his thing, he was inundated with encouragement, including from some legends of the game.
Enorme corazón @dieschwartzman , tu trabajo y esfuerzo lograron ubicarte entre los mejores 8 del mundo. Felicitaciones a todo el equipo! Te quiero ❤️🇦🇷💪👏 @JuanIChela @atptour @rolandgarros #RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/aNGCOvObou
— Gabriela Sabatini (@sabatinigabyok) October 9, 2020
And he is not afraid to show a bit of personality on the court, either.
— diego schwartzman (@dieschwartzman) November 14, 2020
Off the court
Together with NBA star Manu Ginobli, Schwartzman was active during the Coronavirus lockdown. The pair worked together with Seamos Uno, a charity initiative which raised funds to give food and hygiene boxes for families in need in Buenos Aires.
“When Manu told me about the project… I did not hesitate to help,” Schwartzman said. “It is minimal next to what the 450 volunteers (have done).”
He also helped to organise #LaChamplay, a FIFA 20 competition involving celebrities, which raised money for Red Cross Argentina.
Schwartzman is also a well-respected dancer. At the Nitto ATP Finals, the entire field agreed that he was the best dancer of the group.
— diego schwartzman (@dieschwartzman) November 19, 2020
Self assessment: “It’s not easy out there”
After his defeat by Nadal at Roland-Garros, Schwartzman offered his feelings on why breaking the domination of the Big 3 has been so hard.
“It’s different playing against Djokovic, Federer, Rafa, these guys. Is not easy playing them five sets because you have to play your best tennis maybe for three, four hours, five hours. It’s not easy. It’s not easy. Physically it’s very hard. Mentally it’s very hard. To improve and to beat the best guys on tour, you have to play them and you have to beat them.”
And in an interview with Tennis Majors, Schwartzman said Thiem’s win at the US Open was an inspiration to the chasing pack.
“Dominic is helping a lot of guys,” Schwartzman said. “(Alexander) Zverev as well, playing the final there, to think, OK, we can do it.”
Tennis Majors assessment: Onwards and upwards
At the age of 28, Schwartzman is hitting his peak. Having beaten Nadal in Rome, reached his first Grand Slam semi-final at Roland-Garros, broken into the world’s top 10 and qualified for the ATP Finals – all for the first time – his confidence has never been higher. The more he mixes with the biggest names in the sport, the better he will become and there is no reason why he cannot make another step up in 2021, as long as he stays healthy.