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Tennis News • Nadal Stunned By Schwartzman In Rome ATP Quarterfinals

By Ricky Dimon

Down goes Rafael Nadal!

Post-pandemic tennis continues to be a surprise, as Nadal suffered a rare clay-court loss in the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Saturday night. Diego Schwartzman played some of the best tennis of his career and upset the Spaniard 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and three minutes.

This is now the second consecutive big tournament from which the overwhelming favorite has bowed out prior to the final four. At the U.S. Open, of course, Novak Djokovic was infamously defaulted from his fourth-round match against Pablo Carreno Busta after a ball hit in frustration happened to slam into a lineswoman’s throat.

For Nadal, it was a much different kind of exit from Rome. The nine-time champion did not beat himself like Djokovic did; he simply got outplayed. Schwartzman was ruthless from the baseline, breaking his opponent a whopping five times in 10 return games. It is true that Nadal showed some signs of rust from his sixth-month layoff that had not been on display in his two previous matches. But even if Nadal was at his best, this was more about Schwartzman. The Argentine consistently played closer to the baseline than Nadal, took the ball early, and dictated play.

“It was crazy; tennis is crazy,” Schwartzman said. “The last three weeks were really bad for me. Yesterday I was not playin very well and today I played my best tennis ever. I was not thinking I could beat him because I was not playing.”

The head-to-head history also did not bode well for the 28-year-old. He had been 0-9 lifetime against Nadal and 2-22 in total sets.

“I played a few times against the three big champions in tennis,” Schwartzman added. “I never beat them until today. I’m very happy…. For sure it’s my best match ever.”

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.