Until this year, Diego Schwartzman had never reached the semifinal stage of a Grand Slam. He just produced one of the best performances of his career advancing through to his maiden Grand Slam semifinal at the French Open. Schwartzman was not the only Argentine who advanced through to the semifinals–qualifier Nadia Podoroska shocked World #3 Elina Svitolina in the women’s quarterfinals. It marked a great day for Argentina, with Schwartzman and Podoroska reaching their first Grand Slam semifinals.
It was a victory that no one saw coming, as three weeks ago World #3 Dominic Thiem secured his first Major title at the US Open. He became the first player in the Open Era to win the US Open final from two sets down to overcome Alexander Zverev in a pulsating fifth-set tiebreaker. The Austrian had continued his strong form well into Roland Garros. He had only dropped two sets en route to his quarterfinal match against Schwartzman. Thiem had his sights set on securing his first French Open title on his favorite surface, but the Argentine stood in his way. Schwartzman defeated Thiem in a marathon match that lasted five hours, 7-6(1) 5-7 6-7(6) 7-6(5) 6-2.
Before Tuesday’s epic victory, Schwartzman’s best result at a Grand Slam was the quarterfinals, at the 2017 US Open.
Toughest test yet to come
In the opening round, Schwartzman saw off Miomir Kecmanovic in three sets in a clinical performance, only dropping four games. Schwartzman disposed of world #157 Lorenzo Giustino in the second round. It was a tougher match in the third round for Schwartzman, who played in his first tiebreaker of the French Open in a competitive three set victory over World #106 Norbert Gombos. The World #12 then cruised past his fourth round opponent Lorenzo Sonego 6-1 3-6 4-6 to advance to his first French Open quarterfinal.
In the quarterfinals, Schwartzman dropped his first two sets of the championships to world #3 Dominic Thiem. The Argentine took it right up to Thiem in a five hour epic. It was Thiem’s second consecutive five hour match after he almost fell to French debutant Hugo Gaston in the previous round. It was Schwartzman’s toughest challenge at the French Open, as he has had the easier side of the draw to Thiem. But, Schwartzman’s biggest test is yet to come. Will he be able to defeat Rafael Nadal again on his favored clay surface in the same year? Schwartzman took out the Spaniard in Rome last month. He will need to take his game to another level if he wants to stop the Spaniard from conquering a 13th French Open title.
Will Schwartzman’s dream run continue
While Schwartzman has reached the final four, he will need to continue to play the best tennis of his career. As it looks like his hardest matches of the tournament are still to come. His next opponent is Nadal. Nadal has had a superb French Open, not dropping a single set en route to the semifinals. Also, the World #2 goes into the match with Schwartzman with a 9-1 head-to-head advantage.
If Schwartzman is not on his game, then the World #2 will dispose of him quickly in three sets. Yes, Schwartzman will have to be ready physically and mentally if he wants to cause a massive upset, a challenge only two before him have conquered–Robin Soderling (2009) and Novak Djokovic (2015).
Schwartzman would most likely play Djokovic in the final if he overcomes the Spaniard. It will be a great spectacle to see if the Argentine’s dream run at Paris will continue and if he can dethrone the “King of Clay.” In a rematch of the Rome Masters quarterfinal, the Argentine will be the underdog as he tries to pull off the impossible.
If Schwartzman does overcome the clay master, then he will appear in his first Grand Slam final.
Main Photo from Getty.