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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Sunday September 20, 2020

 
Diego Schwartzman

Diego Schwartzman survived a three hour and 15-minute tussle with Denis Shapovalov to reach is first Masters 1000 final in Rome.

Photo Source: Getty

Diego Schwartzman outlasted Denis Shapovalov in an epic encounter at the Foro Italico on Sunday night, the Argentine coming through in three topsy turvy sets 6-4 5-7 7-6(4) to reach his first Masters 1000 final and set a date with four-time champion Novak Djokovic for the title.

Tennis Express

If Schwartzman can somehow find a way past Djokovic in Monday in Rome he’ll make his Top 10 debut as he approaches Roland Garros. If he doesn’t win, it will be Shapovalov who claims the spot in the Top 10.

“I have two dreams tomorrow,” Schwartzman said. “One it’s winning a tournament like this. And the second one is to be Top 10. Both are there tomorrow on court against Novak and I know it’s very difficult. I need to play more than my 100 percent. I don’t want to say impossible, because it’s not impossible – I know I can beat him but it’s going to be very difficult.”

Both Schwartzman and Shapovalov looked like Top 10 players on Sunday night on Court Centrale in Rome as they traded blows and moved each other around the court for three hours and 15 minutes of exciting clay-court tennis.

It was Schwartzman in control early but gradually Shapovalov was able to work his way into the match and use his weapons to great effect. The 21-year-old Canadian finished the match with 49 winners to 25 for Schwartzman, including 31 off of the forehand wing and ten aces.

Shapovalov took the middle set after nearly squandering a break lead late and then went ahead in the third by a break, but there would be many more twists and turns to come down the stretch.

Shapovalov lead by a break twice in the third set and served for the win at 5-4 but Schwartzman would not yield and he eventually came through to notch the victory in a deciding set tiebreak.


Shapovalov was asked after the match what he felt the difference was.

“One or two points,” he said. “I think I played a great match today despite not serving nearly as good as I could. I had a chance to win it - up a break twice in the third set. I’m happy that I was able to almost find a way despite struggling with one of my main weapons today.”

No.8-seeded Schwartzman was able to break six times on 14 opportunities, and he won 29 of 51 second-serve return points, which really help his cause as Shapovalov made only 54 percent of his first serves.

He was also resilient, always coming up with a great return when he was seemingly down and out.

“The nerves were there,” Schwartzman said. “It was difficult. I think I took my chances when he was thinking about to win and nothing else, when he was serving for the match and break up in the third and the tiebreak was difficult but I think in the tiebreaker I played better than him. Maybe in the third set he played better than me and deserved to win before, but at the end in the tiebreaker I think I was very solid.”

28-year-old Schwartzman owns a 0-4 record against Djokovic but has taken the Serb to a deciding set in their two meetings on clay, at Roland Garros in 2017 (round of 32) and at Rome in the semifinals last year.


 

 

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