World No. 15 Diego Schwartzman said beating Rafael Nadal on the clay courts of Rome Masters was "crazy." Schwartzman, who considers clay as his top surface, stunned the greatest clay courter ever as he beat Nadal 6-2 7-5 to reach the Rome Masters semifinal.
Schwartzman, a former world No. 11, prevented Nadal from winning his 10th Rome Masters title. "It was crazy. Tennis is crazy. Our performance is always crazy. The past three weeks were really bad for me," Schwartzman said on court after his victory, per the ATP website.
"Today I played my best tennis. Very similar to Roland Garros against Rafa three years ago and I'm very happy. I was not thinking to beat him really because I was not playing good [lately]. But today I did my best and I'm very happy."
Schwartzman finally beats Nadal
Nadal led 2-1 after the opening three games of the match but then Schwartzman claimed back-to-back breaks as he won five games in a row to win the first set 6-2. In the second set, Nadal twice recovered from a break down as Schwartzman failed to serve out for the match in the 10th game of the set.
But the Argentine broke Nadal for the third time in the set in the 11th game, before successfully serving out for the match a game later. Nadal now leads the head-to-head against Schwartzman 9-1. "I played against him nine times before.
Four or five times I was not close, but playing really well and close in the score, feeling well," Schwartzman said. "I came to the court trying to do the same things and the first set was really, really good for me.
I took every chance he gave me." Before the match, record 12-time French Open champion Nadal claimed he wouldn't take Schwartzman for granted. "[It] always has been very tough and tricky matches against him," Nadal said.
"I know I have to play very well if I want to have chances and that's what I'm going to try [to do]." Schwartzman plays next against rising Canadian star Denis Shapovalov, who beat 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov in three sets.
"He's playing really well since we came back in the U.S. He was playing good," Schwartzman said. "He's a really good guy... It's going to be really tough, but I think if I play like today I'm going to have chances."