Diego Schwartzman

Original Article Published On The Jerusalem Post

NEW YORK – Jewish Argentine Diego Schwartzman battled and dominated No. 6 Alexander Zverev of Germany in their fourth-round match at the US Open late Monday night. The hard-hitting Schwartzman won 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 to advance to his third quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament, where he will face No. 2 Rafael Nadal.

Schwartzman, 27, who holds a 5-22 record versus top 10 players, was 1-1 against the hard-serving Zverev prior to Monday’s match. Zverev looked unstoppable as he started the match with two aces. He hit 11 aces overall, however his 17 double faults – many at key moments in the match – proved costly.

Schwartzman, known to be an excellent serve returner, had no aces and only one double fault. Zverev committed 65 unforced errors to Schwartzman’s 43.

“I have a lot of confidence in my return,” said Schwartzman. “I was trying to study where my opponents are going to serve in important moments. I saw many videos of Alex serving. I know it’s a weapon in my game. I need to use it.”

Schwartzman adds that his endurance is another strength of his and that he “has the confidence to beat many guys when the match goes on for many hours.”

Zverev noted in his post-match press conference that the court was “playing very low and slow,” and added, “credit to [Schwartzman]. He played a great match. I thought he was playing very aggressive. You know, he’s playing well.”

Prior to Monday, only Schwartzman, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal had not lost a set in this year’s US Open. Schwartzman had lost a total of 23 games, Djokovic 29 and Nadal, who won on a walkover in the second round (with Thanasi Kokkinakis bowing out due to injury), had lost just 16 games. No. Djokovic had to retire from his match against Stan Wawrinka due to a shoulder injury, while Nadal dropped a set, but claimed a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 over 2014 champion Marin Cilic.

After losing the first two points in the first game of the first set, Schwartzman jumpedto an early 2-0 lead before losing the next five games and falling 6-3.

The first two games of the second set followed a similar script with Schwartzman going up 2-0. At 2-2, Schwartzman served what would be the longest game of the day. After six deuces, Schwartzman hit a passing shot and forced Zverev to hit long to go up 3-2. Schwartzman didn’t lose another game that set.

“I think the momentum changed in the second set, where I had four or five breakpoints in one game, and I didn’t take them,” said Zverev.

Schwartzman agreed that this fifth game was an important turning point in the match.

“I had great save at two-all in the second set,” he said. “It was very important to me. Also, against [Zverev], he’s a big guy when he’s up in the score, so it was important to win the game. After that, I think I started to change my game a little and thought ‘OK this is how I need to play.’ Then, in the third and in the fourth, I tried to do the same – trying to be aggressive, and do good defenses. It was a great match after that first set.”

Schwartzman was looking forward to what will definitely be a tough quarterfinal duel.

“If I play Rafa, I need to be focused. I need to study my games against him. I have many good games, very good matches against him. I had my chances against him in many matches, but I haven’t been able to win against him. You never know when you are going to come the next opportunities.”

Nadal, meanwhile, faced his stiffest challenge yet, but raised his game to beat Cilic and continue his quest for a fourth Flushing Meadows title.

The second-seeded Spaniard was in cruise control as he took the first set behind some superb serving and stout defense, but the big-hitting Croatian battled back to snatch the second.

That was as good as it would get for Cilic, however, the momentum shifting decisively in Nadal’s favor when he jumped in the air to hit a spectacular overhead smash that electrified the crowd.

Cilic would double fault later in the game to give Nadal a 3-1 lead and he would never threaten again on a hot and humid night in New York, with Tiger Woods among the star-studded crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium cheering on the Spaniard.

Nadal fired a forehand winner on match point to seal the victory and make his 40th quarterfinal at a Grand Slam.

The 33-year-old 18-time Grand Slam champion has had a relatively stress-free time at the tournament so far, dropping just one set and getting a walkover in the second round.

Schwartzman has faced Nadal seven times and lost every meeting, but has proven a difficult test in the slams, forcing the Spaniard to go four tough sets at the 2018 Australian and French Opens.

“He is one of the most talented players on our tour,” said Nadal, who sometimes trains with Schwartzman. “He has everything, amazing control, amazing speed. He is one of my best friends. He is a real challenge”.

“He has the ability to read very well your shots and to understand very well the game. It is not a surprise he is there.
“I need to play my best in the next round to have the chance to be in the semifinals.”

Nadal is on a collision course with third seed Roger Federer and could meet his old rival in Sunday’s final if both players advance. Federer faced Grigor Dimitrov in the quarters late Tuesday night in match that finished after press time.

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Original Article Published On The Jerusalem Post

The young tennis player, who now ranks 28th in the world, brings a lot of pride to the Jewish athletic world.

from Argentina sat with a curious Jerusalem Post reporter in the Media Center of the US Open. Despite his at-the-time recently-achieved career high ranking of No. 61 (he is now ranked 28th in the world), few reporters were interested in Diego Schwartzman.Schwarzman, then 23, was engaging, polite, always-smiling and happy to speak about his family, Jewish upbringing in Argentina, love of soccer and, of course, tennis.

Schwartzman stands 5-foot-7-inches (1.7 meters), and is known affectionately by the Argentinian Jewish community as “el Peque” (the small). He started playing tennis and soccer at seven years old at Club Nautico Hacoaj, a Jewish sports club in Buenos Aires.

Schwartzman and his three older siblings – brothers Andres and Matias and sister Natali – all played soccer, attended Hebrew school and celebrated their bar and bat mitzvas.

By the age of 13, Diego focused exclusively on tennis.

“I did not have time for Hebrew school because of tennis,” said Schwartzman, though he noted that he and his family “respect Jewish traditions” and occasionally attend synagogue.

In many ways, Schwartzman is a typical Argentine young adult. He enjoys sports, hanging out with friends, listening to music and going to bars on the weekends. But unlike friends who have already attended university, Schwartzman’s desire to study management and public affairs will have to wait.

His professional tennis career is really taking off.

By the end of this year’s extraordinarily successful US Open, the 25-year-old Schwarzman was a household name among tennis fans, and members of the press from around the world filled a large interview room almost daily to ask questions – both in English and Spanish press conferences – about his stunning come-from-behind victories against top players – and about being the shortest player by far in the top 50.

What a difference three years and a tremendous two week run at a Grand Slam tennis tournament makes.

Schwartzman arrived at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, a few days before the August 28 start of the US Open.

In a post-practice interview with The Jerusalem Post in the player’s garden, Schwartzman discussed his past year on the ATP Tour, some changes to his team, and what it might take to “go deep” in a major tournament.

Schwartzman clearly had no expectation of advancing to the quarterfinals of the impending major.

“I think I have improved a lot in many things. I am really focused, both inside the court and outside the court,” he said.

He is pleased with his recent progress.

“This year was really good so far. I played really good. I made lots of quarterfinals and some semifinals, but I still need to improve a few things, like the physical and recovery after matches.”

Schwarzman lost a high-profile five setter to Novak Djokovic at the French Open earlier this year.

Then came the US Open, where Schwartzman surprised even himself, taking out a number of giants in rapid succession, including fellow countryman Carlos Berlocq (6-2, 6-1, 6-3), Serbian Janko Tipsarevic (6-2, 6-4, 7-5), fifth-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia (4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-4), and No. 16 Lucas Pouille of France (7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 6-2) in his first career Grand Slam fourth round.

Schwartzman remained a gentleman throughout the tournament, consistently sharing kind words about his opponents. Following the Cilic match, Schwartzman shook hands and apologized.

“I just said nice words for him, because he’s a big-time player as well as a really good guy.”

Prior to facing Pablo Carreno Busta in the quarterfinals, Schwartzman noted, “It’s going to be really nice for me. I am really happy to be in the quarterfinals this year. I am excited to play Pablo since he’s my friend off the court. We have a good relationship in the locker rooms, and we share a lot of things outside the tennis life.”

Schwartzman ultimately lost to Carreno Busta (6-4, 6-4, 6-2) before an enthusiastic capacity crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium, chanting “Vamanos” (let’s go”) and the soccer chant, “Ole Ole Ole.”

Shwartzman’s storied run in New York earned him $470,000 and raised his profile and popularity in the tennis world. (Prior to the US Open, he earned $828,051 in 2017 and had total career prize money of $2,221,962).

Now, he is off to Kazakhstan where he will be a member of the Argentinian Davis Cup Team as it squares off against Kazakhstan in the September 15-17 World Group Play-Offs.

A long-awaited first trip to Israel will still have to wait.

“I am good friends with Dudi Sela and I really want to go to Israel. I almost got to go for the Maccabiah this year!” Whether or not he makes it to the Holy Land in the near future, the future is bright for Schwartzman, and with his play and attitude he is sure to garner more fans and admirers in the Jewish world and beyond.

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