"When he's under confidence it's difficult to break," Rafael Nadal says laughingly of his quarterfinal opponent Diego Schwartzman. Perhaps he's right and perhaps he's being modest. Nadal is a gutsy, gritty player who can dig out wins on any spot of the court.
But Rafa's Argentinian opponent who is so much a scrappy player like his iconic adversary and the entertaining game play was all that the crowd and the two players needed to show what they had. The Spaniard went up 4-0 in the first set and you could hear the applause as it looked as though Schwartzman would get the bagel and not enjoy the results.
But the Argentine has comeback power and his energizer was working overtime as he made shots necessary to the level the games at 4-all. He went down-the-line, opened up the court and tried keeping Rafa back to accomplish his goal.
But it was Nadal who had the extra twist and inside out and blasting forehands to make it work grabbing the first set 6-4. "Like a lion in the jungle...he's a fighter..." Schwartzman had said on Nadal's fierce determination to gain a point or game.
The Argentine is no pushover either and he seen himself falling again in the second set by 5-1 in favor of Nadal. The goods dwere necessary to be delievered to his pesty opponent and Schwartzman did it sometimes the easy way and some points the hard way, but tied the games again at 5-all.
He had that bit of hope that two more games would make the difference, but he couldn't come up with the needed sting to win the second set and fell to Nadal again at 7-5. "..he knows how to play the important moments, every single time," Schwartzman said shaking his head in disbelief that the 'Lion' was roaring his ugly head at him againl.
The head-to-head meets were 8-0 in favor of Rafa but as much as Schwartzman was determined to not focus on the inevitable odds, they came up to bit him on the hand again and again. There might have been a slim hope the Argentine was thinking of getting a set on Nadal as he plunged forward with the third set.
The efforts for Schwartzman to make an impact were fading as he did get 2 games. "I've played him eight times and every important moment, he played better than me," the Argentine said frankly. Nadal got busy with digging for those other games and won the set 6-2 and the match 6-4, 7-5, 6-2.
This is another quarterfinal Rafa has won and is going for his fourth U.S. Open Championship. When all is said and done the Spaniard gave a big grin and said of himself that "The body is in good shape, I think...of course a little tired."
But what player isn't tired after tons of championships. All that Schwartzman is waiting for is the time he can conquer a match from Nadal but says a bit doubtful that "..this guy is improving every time."