The delayed 2020 French Open serves off on Monday and the preparation of World No.2 and clay court specialist, Rafael Nadal, was thrown off course on Saturday in Italy when he was deservedly beaten in the Italian Open quarter final by Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 6-2 7-5.
Nadal, aiming for a 10th title in Rome and 13th at Roland Garros, was thrown off balance by the Argentine’s energy and shot-making while his own first serve percentage let him down. The abiding picture of the match in Rome was that of Nadal’s father applauding the diminutive Schwartzman after the deserved victory.
That was Schwartzman’s first victory in 10 meetings over the clay specialist and the best he has played against any of the top players in the world. Speaking at the post-match press conference, the 28-year-old, ranked 15th in the world, said, “For sure it’s my best match ever. I played a few times against the three big champions in tennis. I never beat them until today,”
Schwartzman, however, added that the win would have been sweeter if fans had been around to witness it. “I’m very happy. It’s sad to not have people watching the match today. Not the best tournament to do for the first time against Rafa. But I have to still focus because I have a big match tomorrow and I want to do the finals here.”
Nadal agreed afterwards that Schwartzman had simply been better. “It was not my night at all. He [Schwartzman] played very well, not me. This kind of thing can happen after a long time without playing. I managed two good matches, tonight a bad one. Well done to Diego,” he added.
“I fought until the end, but losing that many serves you can’t expect to win a match, so it’s something that I have to fix. I know how to do it.”
Unfortunately, Nadal does not have much time as the French Open serves off on Monday, September 21.