Why Diego Schwartzman is a Dark Horse to Win Roland Garros

Diego Schwartzman in action at the French Open.

After what has been a rather disappointing year for Diego Schwartzman, the Argentine has made a highly impressive start to his French Open campaign. He is yet to drop a set and hasn’t conceded more than four games in a set. While it’s still early days in the tournament, it’s looking like Schwartzman is getting back to his best. Many are aware of how dangerous he is on clay, but could he go all the way in Paris?

Diego Schwartzman: French Open Dark Horse?

Poor Year So Far

Leading up to the French Open, this wouldn’t have even been a conversation worth having. Schwartzman has had a very poor season by his standards, and hasn’t made a good showing on clay either. Since the Miami Open, his clay court swing record was two wins and five losses heading into Paris. Schwartzman hasn’t made a deep run at any clay court tournament and has comfortably lost to multiple players he usually would have no trouble against.

Watching his matches, he just hasn’t seemed to have been playing with enough confidence or being able to out-hit his opponents, which he often excels at. While the reasons for Schwartzman’s dip in form are unclear, it’s more than natural for the top players to go through this. What’s important is that he finds a way to bring himself out of this dip and get back to the height of his game. At Roland Garros, it looks like he’s doing just that.

Finding his Form

Diego Schwartzman would’ve been fairly relieved to have been drawn against Lu Yen-hsun, a good player but really a comfortable opening match. Diego blitzed his way through his opening round, losing just seven games in total. Given his recent form, this was great to see. A far more confident showing from the 28 year-old, and this extended into the next round.

Aljaz Bedene looked to be a stern challenge, but Schwartzman again held strong. Bedene is always a tough opponent, and can cause trouble for anyone. However, a comfortable straight sets win saw the Argentine safely through. An interesting stat from this match is that Diego won 72% of points on his second serve, and won less on his first serve with 69%. A highly impressive stat which shows how good his game at the back of the court is right now. Serving on clay significantly reduces the need for a big serve, which is always a positive for him.

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Schwartzman now faces a tougher opponent in Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber. A player who has been around the top of the men’s game for quite some time, and who is also showing some impressive form this week. He took down the danger man Aslan Karatsev as well as veteran Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in pretty dominant fashion. This will make for an interesting encounter.

Despite a tough prospect around the corner, this is still a match Schwartzman should win. If he’s playing close to his best then Kohlschreiber shouldn’t be much of an issue. If he can hit his groundstrokes with the power and confidence we’ve already seen so far, then this should be a good win for Diego.

A Force on Clay

Schwartzman’s solidness at the back of the court is what has made him such an effective player in recent years. Many will remember his heroic showing at last year’s French Open where he beat Dominic Thiem in five sets to make the semifinals. This match showed how good he is at outhitting the best clay court players in the world, which he also did a matter of weeks before against Rafael Nadal. To overcome Thiem in Paris and Nadal in straight sets in Rome is no mean feat.

The Argentine has more than proved he has what it takes. When he’s at his best he is an absolute brick wall and very difficult to get past, with a tremendous skill set to go add to this. Although it’s been said countless times before, his ball striking and power is absolutely staggering for a player of his height. Combine this with some of his Rafa-like aggressive defense, he really is an awesome player. Can he go onto win the whole thing? He certainly has the potential to.

Of course, as the tournament goes on he will play tougher and tougher opponents. However, we know he is more than capable of beating the best in the world on clay, so he’s absolutely in with a chance of being a dark horse to win the French Open. He has the defense to compete with anybody, and if he can execute his power successfully, he may just shock the tennis world.

Main Photo from Getty.

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