Diego Schwartzman vs Grigor Dimitrov: ATP Madrid Open Second-Round Preview

Grigor Dimitrov will take on Diego Schwartzman at the ATP Madrid Open.
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Diego Schwartzman has been in impressive form on the clay this season. He recorded his 15th win on the red dirt, the highest by any player so far this season in his tournament opener in Madrid on Monday. The Argentine beat Benoit Paire 6-2 6-7(5) 6-1 in just over two hours to set up an exciting second-round clash against Grigor Dimitrov in the Spanish capital.

Dimitrov had a comfortable outing in his 6-2 7-6(4) straight-sets victory against Maxime Cressy in his round of 64 clash in Madrid. After a promising start to this year’s clay season at the Monte Carlo Masters, where he reached the last four, the Bulgarian suffered a third-round exit against Stefanos Tsitsipas in Barcelona before arriving in Madrid. While Dimitrov has reasons to be hopeful of a decent run at the Madrid Masters this year, an in-form, clay-court specialist in Schwartzman stands in his way.

Dimitrov leads Schwartzman 2-1 so far on the ATP tour, though in their only clash on clay Schwartzman beat Dimitrov 6-7 7-6 6-0 in the final in Istanbul in 2016 with the Bulgarian losing the match after being given a game penalty for racket abuse.

While Schwartzman has shown consistency on clay so far this season, he has struggled to get across the finishing line on more than one occasion, suffering frustrating defeats in the final in Rio and at the Argentina Open at the beginning of this season. Against Tsitsipas, at the Monte Carlo Masters, in one of the most dramatic matches of the clay-court swing, the Argentine choked despite leading 4-0 in the deciding set. He will doubtless be hoping to avoid a repeat in Madrid as he looks to build momentum ahead of Roland Garros.

Dimitrov, meanwhile, has struggled for consistency throughout his career, despite achieving some outstanding victories over top players and winning a handful of big titles. However, as he prepares to take on Schwartzman on Wednesday, Dimitrov can draw plenty of confidence from his run to the semifinals in Monaco where he got the better of the likes of Casper Ruud and Hubert Hurkacz. He also has a solid record in the Spanish capital.

An in-form Schwartzman has all the tools to prevail over Dimitrov’s variety. However, he must be watchful, especially if the Bulgarian starts firing down-the-line backhands. Dimitrov should employ an aggressive approach while returning Schwartzman’s serves, especially his comparatively weak second serves. The Bulgarian, meanwhile, may look to keep Schwartzman off-balance by occasionally serving and volleying. The faster conditions in Madrid have traditionally suited big servers and aggressive player, which should aid Dimitrov in his clash against the Argentine, but Dimitrov nonetheless cannot afford a drop in his intensity.

Can Dimitrov, display his vintage best to topple Schwartzman? Or will the Argentine weave his magic on clay to continue his good run on clay so far this season?

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