Following the final in Rome, Diego Schwartzman was one of the Roland Garros favorites alongside Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Rafael nadal. The Argentine had to beat the strongest trio if he wanted to lift the trophy, facing Dominic Thiem in the quarter-final.
In what turned out to be one of the matches of the tournament, Schwartzman toppled the two-time finalist in five sets after over five hours, earning one of his most brilliant wins in a career and setting the clash against the 12-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal.
Despite giving his best, Diego couldn't take at least a set against Rafa, who avenged the Rome defeat with a 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 triumph in three hours and nine minutes. It was Nadal's 13th victory in as many semi-finals in Paris, beating the Argentine for the tenth time in 11 encounters.
At 34 years and four months, Nadal became the third-oldest Roland Garros finalist in the Open era behind Andres Gimeno and Ken Rosewall, who achieved that 50 years ago. In a recent interview, Diego said he gave his everything to recover after that Thiem marathon, giving his best against Rafa but still losing in straight sets.
Despite that, Rafa had to dig deep to open a 6-3, 6-3, 4-2 advantage, losing ground a bit after that but still sealing the deal in the tie break. Nadal saved nine out of 12 break chances, controlling his games' pace until the third set's second part and delivering six breaks that carried him through.
Rafa had the upper hand in the shortest and mid-range exchanges, playing aggressive tennis than saw him hitting 40 winners and 35 unforced errors. The Spaniard was the more aggressive player in the opener, hitting the ball early to keep the rival out of the comfort zone.
Nonetheless, he had to work hard in the opening game, fending off two break chances and bringing it home with a backhand crosscourt winner after 13 minutes. The Argentine netted a backhand in game two to suffer a break, pulling it back in the next one following a loose backhand from Nadal.
The defending champion grabbed a break at 15 in game four to forge another lead, fending off a break chance a few minutes later with an ace down the T line and holding after three deuces for a 4-1 advantage after enormous 40 minutes!
Schwartzman produced comfortable holds in games six and eight but couldn't create more break chances, as Rafa held at 5-3 after two deuces to wrap up the opener in 65 minutes.
Rafael Nadal defeated Diego Schwartzman in straight sets at Roland Garros.
Carried by this momentum, Nadal served at 80% in set number two, dropped four points behind the initial shot and mounted the pressure on the other side of the net.
Diego did his best to overpower the rivals and hit more winners, achieving that while spraying too many errors that cost him two breaks. After two holds at love on each side, Nadal earned a break in game three following a backhand mistake from the Argentine, forcing the opponent's error in game four to build a 3-1 advantage.
Schwartzman survived three break points in game seven that could have pushed him further behind, winning five straight points to remain within one break deficit and leaving Rafa a bit frustrated after missing his opportunities.
Still, the Spaniard didn't think about them for too long, holding at love in game eight and closing the set with another break at 5-3 that sent him closer to the finish line. Returners couldn't do much in the third set's opening three games before Nadal clinched a break at love to open a 3-1 gap.
Instead of building on it, Rafa played a loose service game to suffer a break when his forehand landed wide, keeping the Argentine in contention but still looking in a good position. The Spaniard moved closer to the finish line with the second straight break at love that opened a 4-2 lead for him, squandering it straight away when his forehand landed long.
Schwartzman held at 15 in game eight to level the score at 4-4, and there was no more room for Rafa's errors, holding at love to move 5-4 up. At 30-30 in the tenth game, Nadal produced two massive mistakes that could have cost him dearly in the rest of the clash, losing three of the previous four games and having to work hard to avoid set number four.
Landing a couple of tired shots, the 12-time champion found himself 40-15 down in game 11, firing up his forehand to save those break points and fending off the third with a volley winner to bring the game home after four deuces with a service winner.
Diego held at 15 in game 12 to reach the tie break that Nadal kicked off with two winners. The Argentine sprayed a smash error to find himself 4-0 down, sending a backhand long in the next one to push Rafa closer to the finish line.
The Spaniard forced rival's mistake to create six match points, converting the first following a loose backhand from Diego to sail into the final.