'Beating Rafael Nadal in Rome last year was special,' says Diego Schwartzman

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'Beating Rafael Nadal in Rome last year was special,' says Diego Schwartzman

Diego Schwartzman finished the previous as the year-end top-10 for the first time at 28, following excellent Rome and Paris runs. The Argentine reached the first Masters 1000 final in Rome after beating Rafael Nadal and gave his best against Novak Djokovic in the final.

At Roland Garros, Schwartzman ousted Dominic Thiem in an epic encounter that lasted over five hours to reach the first Major semi-final. Nadal halted the Argentine in straight sets to avenge the Rome loss, and Diego still did enough to qualify for the ATP Finals for the first time.

Asked about his favorite Masters 1000 victory, Diego named his Rome triumph over Rafa from last September, playing well to beat the Spaniard for the first time in ten encounters. The Argentine took advantage of the conditions and scored a 6-2, 7-5 win, taking over half of the return points and turning them into five breaks.

Schwartzman had 31 winners and 17 unforced errors, leaving Rafa on a 21-30 ratio and dominating the most extended exchanges to find himself over the top. 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 at 2-2 with a forehand down the line winner and converted the first with a forehand crosscourt winner. The Argentine confirmed the break with a volley winner, controlling the pace and opening space to overpower feeble Nadal.

Rafa got broken again in game seven following a loose drop shot and sprayed a backhand mistake at 2-5 to hand the opener to Diego after 48 minutes.

In Rome last year, Diego Schwartzman defeated Rafael Nadal for the first time.

With a boost on his side, the Argentine forged two break chances at the beginning of the second set with a backhand crosscourt winner, wasting them and hitting a backhand wide to miss his opportunity and keep Nadal in.

Schwartzman produced fantastic quickness and skills in the second game to save a break point and held at love with a drop shot winner to level the score at 2-2. Nadal delivered a stellar serve & volley combo in game five to save a break chance and brought the game home to remain in touch.

Schwartzman broke Nadal at 3-3 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 and leveled the score at 4-4 to keep his hopes alive.

Not looking back, Diego grabbed a break at love with a forehand down the line winner in game nine and served for the victory. Refusing to surrender, Nadal broke back at love to extend the clash, struggling but giving his everything to turn the tables and stay alive.

With nothing working his way, Rafa got broken at 15 in game 11 when Diego landed a backhand winner and allowed his opponent to serve for the victory for the second time. Schwartzman seized the match point at 6-5 with a volley winner to seal the deal against the nine-time Rome champion and remain on the title course.

"My best Masters 1000 match came against Rafa in Rome last year. I was not playing my best tennis from the season's restart, and I tried to play good tennis against Rafa, feeling good on the court again. It was my best tennis ever, and that match was special, taking my chances and beating Rafa on his favorite surface," Diego Schwartzman said.