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Djokovic vs Schwartzman ATP Rome Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Djokovic seeks ninth Rome Masters final

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 18 May 2019
  • Novak Djokovic vs Diego Schwartzman is live from Rome on Saturday, 18 May from 8:00pm local time/ 7:00pm BST
  • Djokovic has won their two previous meetings, but Schwartzman once took him to five sets at Roland Garros
Novak Djokovic. (Photo: Antonietta Baldassarre / Insidefoto/Sipa USA)

After surviving an epic battle against Juan Martin del Potro in Friday's quarter-final, Novak Djokovic will attempt to reach his ninth Rome Masters final when he takes on another Argentine, Diego Schwartzman at the Foro Italico on Saturday. 

Djokovic had to call on all of his famous survival instincts on Friday night, saving two match points as he withstood a barrage of ferocious groundstrokes from del Potro to escape into the Rome final. 

While del Potro was profligate with a forehand error on the first of those match points at 4-6 in the second set tie break, Djokovic saved the second with an inspired piece of genius- an incredible drop shot that left del Potro and the rest of the Foro Italico stunned. The Serbian went on to complete a gripping 4-6 7-6 6-4 victory as the match clock ticked over three hours, and the Roman time crept beyond 1:00am on Saturday morning.

Del Potro was playing just his third tournament, and seventh match of the season as he had been struggling with a knee injury, but he showed absolutely no signs of rust as he took the attack to Djokovic. The monster forehand, we know about, but arguably more impressive was how his backhand held up brilliantly under serious scrutiny from Djokovic's two-hander. Del Potro did not only hang around in court exchanges, but he also unfurled some beauties down the line through the course of the three-hour contest. He would feel this was one that got away, and was undone by a few untimely unforced forehand errors late in the second and third sets, but Djokovic can add this to another of his patented get-out-of-jail victories as his ability to remain resolute and clear-minded under pressure, and execute again came to the fore.

“I never lost faith I could come back to the match. One break of serve, mini break in the tie-break when he was 6/4, more or less open forehand that he was making the entire match, that's all it took for me to come back,” Djokovic said. “[He] missed a couple crucial points in the tie-break. Also break point third set, quite easy forehand. That's what happens. That's sport. I'm just really pleased to overcome.”

The world No. 1 has now reached the semi-finals in Rome for a sixth straight year, and should he go all the way this weekend, he would claim his fifth title at the Foro Italico, and his 34th Masters 1000 crown, breaking his tie with Rafael Nadal at the top of the list. (Nadal is still in the draw, and we could have a mouth-watering Nadal-Djokovic final on Sunday).

Djokovic is also on a seven-match winning streak, having claimed four wins on his way to the Madrid title last week, and three more in Rome. He didn't begin his Rome campaign until Thursday due to Wednesday's rain delay, but he breezed through both of his matches on "double-duty Thursday", dropping a combined seven games in straight sets victories over Denis Shapovalov and Philipp Kohlschreiber. It was a good job he could conserve some energy for Friday, given what transpired against del Potro!

Djokovic is looking to reach his third final of the season, after the Australian Open and Madrid. There was a brief lull after his Australian Open success, as he fell early at Indian Wells, Miami and Monte Carlo, but he has been back to his best in the last couple of weeks, and is a win against Diego Schwartzman from making consecutive finals.


Schwartzman booked his spot in his maiden Masters 1000 semi-final with a very impressive 6-4 6-2 victory over Kei Nishikori in the last eight on Friday. 

Schwartzman had only ever won just one match in his three previous visits to Rome, but he has picked up four wins at the Foro Italico this week, progressing to the last four without dropping a set.

The Argentine opened with a 6-1 6-4 victory over Yoshihito Nishioka, before beating Albert Ramos-Vinolas and local favourite, Matteo Berrettini on Thursday. He returned on Friday to take down an off-colour Nishikori- his first victory in four matches against the Japanese, and his first victory over a Top-6 player. Schwartzman raced out to a 5-0 lead, but Nishikori recovered from his sluggish start and won four games in a row to get back on serve. The Argentine would not be denied, breaking in the tenth game to take the opening set. The world No. 24 pulled away in the second set, taking the last four games and claim victory after an hour and 28 minutes.

Schwartzman is attempting to reach his second final of the season, having finished runner-up to Marco Cecchinato in Buenos Aires in February. He had made a decent start to the year, reaching the semis in Sydney, the third round in Melbourne and the Buenos Aires final inside the first two months of 2019, but he lost his way after that, and did not win back-to-back matches in his next eight tournaments- a run spanning three months. He has addressed that slumbering form in Rome, and is now one win away from his biggest final.

The world No. 24, who peaked at No. 11 after making the quarter finals at Roland Garros last season, is projected to get back into the top 20 after this Rome run.

Getting past Djokovic on Saturday is an extremely difficult proposition for Schwartzman, who doesn't possess the bludgeoning power of his compatriot, del Potro, but rather relies on his movement and consistency off the ground to get past his opponents. Problem is: Djokovic is the master of movement and baseline consistency, and has got Schwartzman covered in both departments.

Schwartzman will not go down without a fight- he will be as aggressive as he can, and make it as hard as possible for Djokovic, testing out the Serbian's fitness following his late night show against del Potro on Friday. He did push Djokovic to five sets in their only previous clay-court meeting at Roland Garros in 2017 (he trails 2-0 in their overall head-to-head).

With the way Djokovic has been playing in recent weeks, and the fight and desire he showed against del Potro, he should be fairly comfortable against Schwartzman on Saturday.

Novak Djokovic vs Diego Schwartzman is live from Rome on Saturday, 18 May from 8:00pm local time/ 7:00pm BST

*Geo-restrictions apply. Streams available to customers with an active balance 


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Djokovic vs Schwartzman ATP Rome Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Djokovic seeks ninth Rome Masters final

Novak Djokovic continues his bid for a fifth Rome Masters title when he takes on Diego Schwartzman in the semi-finals on Saturday. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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