Competing in his first Masters 1000 final, Diego Schwartzman lost to Novak Djokovic in Rome on Monday, missing a chance to lift a notable trophy and enter the top-10. The Argentine needed some time to find his form after the season's restart, finding his A-game at Foro Italico to become a title contender.
In the quarters, Diego toppled world no. 2 and the defending champion Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-5, outplaying the king of clay completely in the opener and prevailing in the second with three breaks of serve to find himself in the semis.
There, Schwartzman had to dig deep against the young gun Denis Shapovalov, trailing 4-2 in the decider but prevailing in the tie break to enter the first Masters 1000 final and go a step further than in 2019. Giving his best, Diego made a strong start against Novak in both sets, only to lose 7-5, 6-3, propelling the Serb towards the 36th Masters 1000 title.
Speaking about the match, Diego was pleased with his performance, having enough chances in the opener but squandering them and losing an initial lead. The Argentine will have enough time to recover and produce his best tennis at Roland Garros next week, feeling comfortable and optimistic about his chances.
Ready to challenge a great rival, Schwartzman broke Djokovic twice at the beginning of the encounter to open a 3-0 lead, losing the next four games and leveling the score at 4-4 with a solid hold. The Argentine wasted a break point in game nine, saving a set point on serve at 4-5 and suffering a break in game 12 to hand the opener to a four-time Rome champion.
They traded breaks early in the second set and Djokovic grabbed another one at 4-3, forging the advantage and sealing the deal a few minutes later to secure the record-breaking 36th Masters 1000 crown, the second of the season after Cincinnati.
Diego Schwartzman played on a high note against Novak Djokovic in Rome.
"I think I played great today, doing many things right from the baseline. I had the advantage in both sets' early stages, playing aggressive tennis and imposing my strokes, also moving well.
The conditions with that light rain didn't help me with the serve and the initial groundstroke. After a perfect start, I started to struggle behind the initial shot for a game or two. Novak raised his level, and I still had that chance at 4-4 in the first, breaking him at the beginning of the second.
I had my chances like I did against Rafa in the quarters, only that I didn't take them; it was just one of those days. In the end, Novak is Novak, and he played incredible tennis in the last couple of games. I feel optimistic and have enough days to prepare for Roland Garros.
Here in Rome, we played every day, going to sleep late and hitting the court again on the next day. I would love to compete in a Major final one day; I'm working hard to achieve that and would love to embrace those matches in the future.
In Paris, my first concern is the initial covid test. It's not comfortable to sit and wait for the results; thinking will you even play the tournament at all. After that, I hope to enjoy the time on the court, trying to give my best and achieve a good result," Diego Schwartzman said.