ATP Rio: Diego Schwartzman and Fernando Verdasco will fight for the title

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ATP Rio: Diego Schwartzman and Fernando Verdasco will fight for the title

The 6th seed Diego Schwartzman will play in his fourth ATP final and the second on clay following a 7-5 6-2 win over Nicolas Jarry in an hour and 17 minutes. World number 94 from Chile had a great run until the semis but he could stay in touch with the better-ranked Argentine until 5-5 in the opening set before Diego shifted into a higher gear to dominate in the rest of the match.

They had a similar number of break points but Schwartzman played better in those moments, fending off six out of seven break points to keep the pressure on Jarry who lost 46% of the points in his games and got broken four times from eight chances he faced.

Nicolas managed to prolong the opening set with a late break but that couldn't help him much since Diego restored the order soon after that and he never looked back. It was a close match in the opening six games and Jarry found his serve and forehand right from the start to challenge Schwartzman.

In game seven we saw better returning from Diego and he broke when Nicolas netted an easy backhand to take a 4-3 lead. Serving for the set in game 10 the Argentine suffered a break and the result was locked up at 5-5, with a nice chance of reaching a tie break.

Instead of that, he broke Jarry in game 11 to restore the advantage, firing a forehand down the line that Nicolas could only send into the net. The 12th game proved to be the longest of the match and Schwartzman fends off two break points with much-needed service winners and he closed the set on his third set point when Nicolas netted an easy forehand.

The Argentine defended his second serve well in set number two and he had only one loose service game that didn't cost him much since he saved all three break points he faced when he was already a double break in front.

Jarry lost his serve twice and he couldn't climb back from there, ending his run in the semis. Diego claimed the first break in game three after a terrible forehand drive volley from Jarry that pretty much sealed his fate in this match.

A wide forehand cost the Chilean another service game at 1-3 and Schwartzman was ready to book the place in the final a few games later. A 160km/h forehand winner gave Nicolas two break points in game six that could at least prolong the match for him but Diego repelled both with winners to hold with an ace and gain a 5-1 lead.

Nicolas saved a match point on serve in game seven with a service winner but that was all he could do, as Schwartzman wrapped up a win with a great backhand down the line a few minutes later. 34-year-old Fernando Verdasco scored a great win over Dominic Thiem last night and he continued his great form on Saturday, beating the 5th seed Fabio Fognini 6-1 7-5 in an hour and 15 minutes to advance into his 23rd ATP final and the first since Dubai last year. This was their 6th meeting and the first on clay since 2010 and Fernando now leads 4-2, scoring his first win over Fabio since that 5-setter at the US Open 2010.

The Spaniard served at only 56% but he played well behind his first serve and kept the second safe to fend off three out of four break points and keep all the pressure on the other side of the net. It was a dreadful match from the Italian, making a ton of errors in the opening set and getting broken on five occasions from six chances he offered to Fernando.

Verdasco needed just 22 minutes to claim the opening set 6-1, breaking Fabio four times and winning staggering 80% of the return points! The Italian raised his level in set number two (it could not have been worse than his first set performance even if he tried) and he had three break points in game five that could turn the scoreboard into his favor.

Fernando saved them with a service winner and two errors from his rival and they both played well on serve until game 12 when Fognini served to stay in the match. He sent a backhand wide which cost him the game and the match, sending Verdasco into the title match.

Semi-final results:


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