Diego Schwartzman is through to his second consecutive Rome semi-final, dethroning the nine-time champion Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and three minutes. Struggling with the conditions and an impressive rival on the other side of the net, Rafa was outplayed in almost every department, making too many errors and never moving the opponent from the comfort zone.
Diego secured five breaks from 54% of the return points on his tally, getting broken only twice to move over the top in style and advance into the last four. It was their tenth meeting and the first victory for the Argentine who stayed focused almost all the time, choosing the right shots and moving through in style.
Diego saved a break point in the fourth game and had the upper hand after that, rattling off five straight games and closing it in style with breaks in games five and seven. The Argentine had 13 winners and five unforced errors, doing everything right on the court and leaving the defending champion far behind.
Schwartzman used a slice serve to open the court, firing bullets from both wings and taking 22 out of 32 more extended exchanges! Nadal held with a forehand down the line winner in the first game, with the Argentine finding the rhythm in game two for a hold at 15 after forcing an error from Rafa.
A serve & volley combo clinched the third game for the Spaniard who wasted a break chance in the next one following a loose forehand that would cost him dearly. With dynamic and aggressive striking, Schwartzman earned three break chances in the fifth game with a forehand down the line winner, converting it with a forehand crosscourt winner that sent him 3-2 up.
The Argentine confirmed the break with a volley winner, controlling the rallies’ pace and finding an open space to outplay powerless Nadal. With no solutions, Rafa got broken in game seven following a poor drop shot, spraying a backhand mistake at 2-5 to hand the opener to Diego.
Diego Schwartzman scored his first win over Rafael Nadal in ten matches.
With the momentum on his side, the Argentine forged two break chances at the beginning of the second set with a backhand crosscourt winner, wasting them both and hitting a backhand wide to hand the game to Nadal.
Schwartzman produced fantastic quickness and skills in the second game to save a break point, gaining more boost and holding at love with a drop shot winner to level the score at 2-2. Nadal delivered another masterclass serve & volley combo in game five to save a break chance, bringing the game home to remain in touch.
With nothing to stop him, Diego held at 15 in game six thanks to a backhand down the line winner and broke Nadal a few minutes later when the Spaniard went for another terrible drop shot, having no other option to penetrate the opponent.
Turning on his fighting spirit, Rafa pulled the break back with a smash winner, leveling the score at 4-4 and hoping for more in the rest of the set. Not looking back, Diego grabbed a break at love with a forehand down the line winner in game nine, serving for the victory in the next one.
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, Nadal got broken at 15 when Diego landed a backhand winner, with the Argentine serving for the victory for the second time.
Rafa placed a forehand wide in that 12th game to offer a match point to his rival, allowing Schwartzman to convert it with a volley winner and seal the deal.