While the circuit was interrupted by the pandemic, the Peque took refuge in his family and in his hobbies. His return to activity did not go as expected, but the negative streak came to an end in Italy
September 21, 2020 Share on FacebookShare Share on TwitterTweet Share on WhatsAppShare
Diego Schwartzman goes through the best week of his career at the Masters 1000 in Rome
It was April and the days of Diego Schwartzman passed in a very different way than planned. The coronavirus pandemic had forced the world tennis circuit to be interrupted, so travel and tournaments were suspended and Peque's hours began to pass between home training, family activities and professional uncertainty. Fortunately for the Argentine number one, those times are behind him and today he is enjoying what is surely the best week of his career, having reached the final of the Masters 1000 in Rome, where he will face Serbian Novak Djokovic.
Before the stoppage of the competition, Schwartzman had reached the semifinal of the ATP in Buenos Aires in mid-February, but could not appear for the match due to injury. A week before he had lost in the final of the ATP in Córdoba against the Chilean Cristian Garín.
The mandatory quarantine forced the tennis player to seclude himself with his parents, his brother Matías, his girlfriend Eugenia and their dogs Bob and Ziggy. Not being able to train on a court was not simple, but Peque solved it by setting up a small home gym and following the daily routines sent by his physical trainer Martiniano Orazi.
At a certain point, he also realized that it was necessary to take the rackets out of the bags and keep them in hand even for a while. “I started grabbing my rackets as often as possible and throwing balls against the wall for one reason: so the calluses don't go away from my hand . It seems like a joke but later it can be something quite damaging, during the year or when we return ”, he confided at the time to the official ATP website.
The tennis player organized a virtual solidarity tournament with Paulo Dybala
Beyond practice, the hours for the Villa Crespo native passed between video games and card games with the family . He also lent himself to several live broadcasts on Instagram and organized a virtual solidarity tournament with his friend Paulo Dybala called ChamPlay. During his quarantine, he also added a new hobby: cooking. “With my girlfriend we made puddings for the afternoon, chips for mate, we made cakes, rissoto” , he revealed.
“We're a bit of a lone wolf, so it was a day-to-day learning as well,” Schwartzman said of what it took to hang out with other people for so long. It was only at the end of July that he was able to train again on a court under the “new normal” of strict health protocols.
On July 25, the tennis player traveled to The Bahamas to intensify his work for the return of the competition, which was scheduled for mid-August with the Cincinnati Masters 1000, whose edition was played for the only time in New York. The Peque left the country with his coach Juan Ignacio Chela , his physical trainer Martiniano Orazi and his girlfriend Eugenia De Martino.
El Peque in the Bahamas, together with his work team
But the return to the competition was not as the Argentine expected. In Cincinnati he lost in the second round against local Reilly Opelka (39th) by 6-3, 7-6. In the US Open, meanwhile, he suffered a hard and unexpected defeat against Briton Cameron Norrie (76th): after winning the first two sets, he could not maintain the level, lost the next three and was eliminated.
The move to Europe did not mean an improvement in the panorama. After having the first free round in the ATP Kitzbuhel, he won in his debut against local Sebastian Ofner (159th), but then he was out of the contest in the quarterfinals against Serbian Laslo Djere (81st).
Everything was going to begin to be reversed at the Masters 1000 in Rome , a competition that precedes the Grand Slam at Roland Garros. The Peque, current owner of the 15th echelon of the world ranking, beat Australian John Millman 6-4, 7-6 in his debut , and then left the Polish Hubert Hurkacz on the road 3-6, 6-2 and 6 -4. The big blow came in the quarterfinals nothing more and nothing less than the Spanish Rafael Nadal , whom he had never managed to beat in the nine times they had previously crossed paths on the circuit. The Argentine exhibited an extraordinary level and won the victory over the world number two by a resounding 6-2 and 7-5. In the semifinals he had to fight, but once again he was victorious: he beat Canadian Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 5-7 and 7-6 , with whom he had shared some training sessions during his time in the Bahamas.
Schwartzman reached the first Masters 1000 final of his career (EFE / EPA / Clive Brunskill)
This Monday, Schwartzman will face another great rival such as Serbian Novak Djokovic , world number one. Nole comes into this match with an impressive record as he has won every game he was able to complete this season. His only loss was the disqualification he suffered a few weeks ago in the fourth round of the US Open for accidentally hitting a linesman with a ball.
Against Djokovic, Peque will seek to achieve another historic result. He will try to reap the first victory of his career against an opponent he has lost in his four previous meetings . “You have to go out to win whatever it is and prepare the game as if it were a first round, not as a final,” he revealed. The task is difficult, but recent experience tells the Argentine that there are no impossible.