Diego Schwartzman came through a potentially stern challenge in Kevin Anderson on Wednesday in fine form. Despite there being a roof on Louis Armstrong Stadium, the first set was plagued with dramatic rain delays. The weather was so bad in New York that the wind blew the rain sideways into the stadium, leaving the court unplayable as the first set went on. Though neither player was at all pleased with the conditions, it was the Argentine who took the initiative, beating Anderson 7-6(4) 6-3 6-4.
Diego Schwartzman Beats Kevin Anderson
A Dramatic First Set
Many had foreseen this as a tricky encounter for Schwartzman due to Anderson’s monstrous serve and booming groundstrokes. However, he isn’t the player he once was due to injuries and age, and is therefore more reliant on his serve. Couple this in with the fact that Schwartzman has won the second most return games on tour this year (second to Nadal, in front of Djokovic), and it’s clear who the favorite really was.
Anderson started the match far brighter by breaking the Argentine to love in his first service game, but was then immediately broken back. The first set then went on pretty routinely with break points coming and going for either player, with Anderson even missing a set point on Diego’s serve.
At 5-5 the rain seeping through the roof was clearly too much of a hindrance to both players, so play was suspended while the officials did their best to ensure the court was dry and safe to play on. They resumed play after half an hour, but this didn’t last all too long as the rain was still coming through.
In the tiebreak Anderson again made the better start with some poor Schwartzman errors and a slip due to the wet court. At 4-4, Schwartzman was understandably displeased with the court conditions, as was Anderson, so they came off court once again. Another ten minutes later and play resumed, with Anderson serving having been unfortunately interrupted by the rain delays.
Schwartzman took full advantage and was the more aggressive and focused player, winning the next three points to take the set.
Schwartzman Takes Control
The court was soon unplayable once again, so the decision was made to take the players off court and that it would resume on Arthur Ashe Stadium once Tsitsipas vs Mannarino had concluded.
Once play resumed, Schwartzman was pretty much unstoppable. He was reading the Anderson serve comfortably and was dominating the points. Anderson for his own sake had a pretty poor day off the ground, finishing with a whopping 58 unforced errors, though he did blast 48 winners too.
The 11th seed wasn’t at his best in the first set, which is where a number of his 21 unforced errors came from. However, his ability to neutralize Anderson’s weapons and grind him down as the match went on showed why he’s so good at taking down the bigger guys.
Another stat that will please him is that he won 72% of points on his first serve. Anderson is no great returner by any means, but it’s very positive that Schwartzman can defend one of his slight weaknesses so well.
A Dream Quarterfinal Path
With John Isner and Casper Ruud being taken out early doors, Schwartzman now has a fantastic chance to reach his third US Open quarterfinal. Isner would have posed a similar threat as Anderson, which I’m confident Diego would’ve seen off fairly comfortably also. Ruud just beat him in Cincinnati and has been in great form, so this will be somewhat relieving for him.
Schwartzman will now player qualifier Alex Molcan in the third round, who is on a great run of form after taking out Brandon Nakashima. If the 11th seed plays like he did in sets two and three on Wednesday, this should be a good win for him. He will then face either the impressive qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp who took out Ruud, or fellow countryman Facundo Bagnis.
Realistically, these next two rounds should be pretty comfortable for Schwartzman, and it would be highly surprising to not see him reach his third quarterfinal here. He could then meet one of the big title favourites Daniil Medvedev, which is likely where his US Open will end. I’m sure Schwartzman can put up an impressive fight and cause the Russian some problems, but he’s just too good right now.
Given his stature, Diego Schwartzman reaching this stage three times in four years on these fast courts would really be some achievement.
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