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Nadal vs Schwartzman French Open tennis preview, head-to-head and predictions

Will Rafael Nadal avenge his shock Rome Masters defeat to Diego Schwartzman when they face off in the semifinals of the French Open?

Rafael Nadal vs Diego Schwartzman is live from Roland Garros on Friday 9 October, 3pm local/2pm BST

Rafael Nadal was denied crucial warm-up matches and wins at the Rome Masters when Diego Schwartzman shocked him in the quarterfinals – now they meet again with a place in the French Open final on the line.

French Open 2020: Find out tournament information for Roland Garros 2020 and how to stream French Open matches live

Nobody in 12 previous Roland Garros semifinals has managed to beat Nadal, and Schwartzman – as if a 1-9 head-to-head against the Spaniard wasn’t daunting enough – played over five hours to beat Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals. Surely he will not have enough left in the tank with which to challenge the King of Clay.

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

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Nadal vs Schwartzman: Head-to-head

Rafael Nadal leads the head-to-head with Diego Schwartzman 9-1, 5-1 on clay.

Nadal has won nine of the 12 sets they have played on clay. Schwartzman beat Nadal 6-2, 7-5 in the quarterfinals of the Rome Masters recently.

Nadal vs Schwartzman: Preview

Rafael Nadal’s shock defeat to Diego Schwartzman in Rome was largely responsible for much of the speculation that winning this year’s French Open – in new, possibly unsuitable conditions and weather, after just three matches played since February – would be beyond the 12-time champion. So it makes a nice kind of sense that Nadal, back in the Roland Garros semifinals without dropping a set, has the chance to possibly reverse that result and make a statement ahead of a probable clash with Novak Djokovic in the final.

It was hard to tell, as Nadal sped through the first few rounds, whether he was finding his best level or simply not being meaningfully tested. But against Jannik Sinner in the quarterfinals, in the first set in particular, Nadal was tested. It was cold, damp and late (the match did not finish until 1.30am in Paris), and the 19-year-old Italian really took the game to Nadal, even breaking the second seed and serving for the opening set. Nadal needed to find something for the first time at the tournament, and he did: He found a pair of utterly ferocious forehand winners to break back, and he never lost it again.

Sinner didn’t totally crumble after losing the first set in a tie-break – he broke Nadal at the beginning of the second set – but he just found himself systematically being sidelined as a factor in the match as Nadal got better and better, figuring out how to play his aggressive tennis in those conditions. By the last set, Nadal was totally dominant.

Diego Schwartzman (Photo by Laurent Zabulon/ ABACAPRESS.COM)

If Nadal is disadvantaged about having to end a match so late – and don’t misunderstand, these can be serious issues for players in the routine of a tournament – then it definitely balances the scales, to say the least, that Schwartzman had to play for five hours against Dominic Thiem in his quarterfinal. Part of it was Schwartzman’s own fault: It really felt like a match he could have won in straight sets, as he was the better player from the beginning with Thiem clearly physically and mentally tired. Schwartzman even served for the second and third sets, losing both; he retreated into his shell as well after failing to close out the second set, abandoning the attacking style which he had used so successfully against Nadal in Rome, and only found it again in the closing stages of the match as he outlasted Thiem for the 7-6(1), 5-7, 6-7(6), 7-6(5), 6-2 victory.

Schwartzman is riding so high on confidence at the moment, playing some of the best tennis of his career. Will it count against Nadal? I really don’t think so. Nadal played so poorly in that Rome defeat – in fact, he played like a man who had had seven months off! – and he’s not playing like that now. He’s serving well, adjusting his patterns with great success, and most importantly against Sinner he figured out how to get his forehand through the court in the most uncongenial conditions. Unless the late-night finish has really disrupted his rhythm – doubtful with two days to recover – Nadal will win this one in four sets at the most.

Nadal vs Schwartzman: Prediction

Dominic Thiem must find a way past the dogged Diego Schwartzman if he is to reach the French Open semifinals for the fifth straight year.

Thiem vs Schwartzman is live from Roland Garros on Tuesday 6 October, 3pm local/2pm BST

Two of the most in-form players in the world clash for a place in the French Open semifinals on Tuesday as Rome runner-up Diego Schwartzman tries to end the 11-match winning streak of US Open champion Dominic Thiem.

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Thiem has made the semifinals or better at the French Open for the past four years and has a 6-2 head-to-head against Schwartzman, but looked tired in a five-set battle with Hugo Gaston – is this Schwartzman’s chance to make a first Grand Slam semifinal?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

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Thiem vs Schwartzman: Head-to-head

Dominic Thiem leads the head-to-head with Diego Schwartzman 6-2. On clay, Thiem leads 3-1. Schwartzman’s most recent win over Thiem came in the Argentina Open semifinals in February 2019. Thiem’s most recent win over Schwartzman came at the ATP Cup in January when Thiem won in straight sets.

Thiem vs Schwartzman: Preview

Dominic Thiem has established a formidable record of excellence at the French Open, making the semifinals in 2016-17 and finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal in 2018-19, and despite some question marks over his physical, mental and emotional fitness after winning his maiden Grand Slam title in New York, is one match away from making the semifinals for the fifth straight year, the kind of consistency that only the titans Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have been able to display at Roland Garros over the past decade or so.

But Thiem also looks vulnerable. There have been patches of poor decision-making during his first three matches at the French Open, indicating a lack of mental sharpness. Marin Cilic, Jack Sock and Casper Ruud all arguably should have won a set from the Austrian, and when Thiem came up against Hugo Gaston in the fourth round, he finally paid the price for being somewhat ragged. The world no. 239, who had beaten Stan Wawrinka in the previous round, made Thiem pay for his deep court positioning with a relentless routine of drop shots and lobs, and Thiem seemed powerless to do much except keep hammering away from the baseline. Eventually he outlasted the wildcard in the fifth set, but it’s starting to look like a question of how many second winds Thiem can find.

Diego Schwartzman (PA Images)

Schwartzman, meanwhile, has a clear physical advantage after not dropping a set, although he hasn’t had the toughest draw with the possible exception of Kitzbuhel champion Miomir Kecmanovic in the opening round. The Argentine can take a lot of inspiration from the Gaston playbook: He hasn’t got the fantastic hands of Gaston, but he can utilise his speed and court coverage and play creatively to make Thiem look one-dimensional, too. Schwartzman is also on fantastic form right now, having dazzled with his victory over a very poor Nadal in Rome and gone on to reach the final; he doesn’t have anything like the power of Thiem, on serve or off the ground, but he is getting better and better at finding ways to generate that pace. I’m not sure he’ll ever have a better opportunity to beat Thiem than he does on Tuesday.

Thiem vs Schwartzman: Prediction

Favourites Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Diego Schwartzman all look set to record straight-set victories in the fourth round of the French Open on day eight.

Three of the world’s best clay-court players take to the court on day eight of the French Open 2020 to face unseeded opponents, looking to book places in the quarterfinals in Paris. Here’s how we see those matches playing out on Sunday 4 October.

Read on for our preview and predictions for Nadal vs Korda, Thiem vs Gaston and Schwartzman vs Sonego.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs Sebastian Korda (Q)

When: Court Philippe-Chatrier, 1pm local/11am BST

Head-to-head: First meeting

Preview: Despite dire forewarnings about how Rafael Nadal might struggle to adjust to the very different conditions of an autumnal French Open, the 12-time champion is doing what champions do: Adapting. Nadal has flattened out his shots, particularly his backhand cross-court, is serving well and has dropped just 19 games in three matches.

Sebastian Korda, son of two professional players including 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda, has now won six matches at Roland Garros to qualify for the main draw and make the fourth round on his first appearance at the French Open. But the 20-year-old has only ever beaten one player ranked inside the top 50. He’s a bright talent but Nadal should not give up any more games than he has in his last two matches (four and five, respectively).

Nadal vs Korda prediction: Nadal -11.5 games

Dominic Thiem (3) vs Hugo Gaston (WC)

When: Court Philippe-Chatrier, 5pm local/4pm BST

Head-to-head: First meeting

Preview: Twenty years old and ranked world no. 239, needing a wildcard to get into the French Open, Hugo Gaston was not a player many anticipated seeing in the last 16, even after he beat fellow wildcard Maxime Janvier and Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka to reach the third round.

Hugo Gaston (PA Images)

But against 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka, Gaston pulled off what was arguably the upset win of the tournament so far, beating Wawrinka 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 to make the last 16. At 5’8” Gaston is neither the tallest nor the most physically imposing player and he certainly couldn’t match Wawrinka’s power off the ground, which was supposed to be his big advantage in this tournament, but Gaston is a great mover, he showed real creativity and outlasted, outran and out-maneouvred Wawrinka.

Will the same tactics work against Thiem? In many ways, Thiem is a player in the same mould as Wawrinka, and he hasn’t looked flawless so far despite not dropping a set – all three of his opponents so far really should have won at least one set against him. They didn’t, though, and the US Open champion’s confidence is supreme. Gaston might – might – get a set. But no more.

Prediction:

Diego Schwartzman (12) vs Lorenzo Sonego

Diego Schwartzman (PA Images)

When: Court Suzanne-Lenglen, 2pm local/1pm BST

Head-to-head: First meeting

Preview: Admittedly not quite in the league of 12-time champion Nadal and two-time runner-up Thiem, Diego Schwartzman has nevertheless made himself into a force to be reckoned with on clay, particularly this year when he made his first Masters 1000 Series final in Rome by beating Nadal himself and then Denis Shapovalov to boot.

The Argentine is now looking to make his fourth career Grand Slam quarterfinal and second at the French Open, where he handled a potentially tricky opener against Kitzbuhel champion Miomir Kecmanovic with aplomb before giving neither qualifier Lorenzo Giustino nor Norbert Gombos a chance to find their feet.

Sonego, 25 years old, is at a career-high ranking of world no. 46 after some very strong results on clay in 2019, including a quarterfinal appearance at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, a semifinal in Kitzbuhel and a win at the Geneva Challenger; he also won his first ATP Tour title on grass in Antalya. He beat Emilio Gomez, Alexander Bublik and Taylor Fritz – three very varied opponents – to reach the last 16, and he’s playing well; this might go longer than three sets.

Prediction:

Novak Djokovic targets fifth Rome Masters title as he faces Diego Schwartzman, the dogged Argentine playing his first Masters final, at the Foro Italico on Monday.

Djokovic vs Schwartzman is live from Rome on Monday 21 September, 5pm local/4pm BST

It’s been five years since Novak Djokovic last won the Rome Masters, but if he beats Diego Schwartzman in Monday’s final, he will not only reclaim the title and preserve his perfect record against the Argentine, but will once again edge ahead of Rafael Nadal in their battle for the most Masters 1000 Series titles of all time.

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Standing in Djokovic’s way, Schwartzman has been having the best tournament of his life, scoring a historic win over Rafael Nadal and winning the longest match of the week in the semifinals – but can he find a way to push Djokovic?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Djokovic vs Schwartzman live

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Djokovic vs Schwartzman: Head-to-head

Novak Djokovic has a 4-0 record against Diego Schwartzman. Their two hard-court matches have been straight-sets wins for Djokovic, but both clay-court matches have gone the distance: At the French Open in 2017, when Schwartzman pushed Djokovic to five sets, and at the Rome Masters in last year’s semifinals when Djokovic won 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-3.

Djokovic vs Schwartzman: Preview

Novak Djokovic was always favoured to reach the Rome Masters final, as he has done nine of the past 12 years including four of the last five, but it hasn’t entirely been plain sailing for the Serb. After a routine win over Italian wildcard Salvatore Caruso, each of Djokovic’s matches so far have been packed with action: Against Filip Krajinovic in the third round he played an 88-minute first set before winning 7-6(7), 6-3; qualifier Dominik Koepfer took him the distance in the quarterfinals before Djokovic won 6-3, 4-6, 6-3; and in Sunday’s semifinal against first-time Masters 1000 Series semifinalist Casper Ruud, Djokovic had to save two set points in the first set and trailed by a break for much of it before being able to win 7-5, 6-3.

Taking a broader lens, of course Djokovic has had a rough time this week, having to make a brutally quick transition between continents and surfaces. Probably the biggest area of concern has been his forehand, with errors coming thick and fast (by Djokovic’s usual standards) off that wing; at key moments, his backhand has broken down too.

However, the crucial point is that Djokovic, unlike Nadal, has made it to the final, and he now has the opportunity to win his 36th Masters 1000 Series title, edging ahead of Nadal on 35.

Diego Schwartzman (Alfredo Falcone – LaPresse – PA Images)

For Diego Schwartzman, it’s simultaneously already the best week of his career – a first Masters 1000 Series semifinal, his first victory over Nadal in ten attempts – and kind of cruel that he will have to best Nadal and Djokovic in the same tournament if he is to win his first Masters 1000 Series title.

A semifinalist in Rome last year, Schwartzman came into this year’s tournament in less than impressive form, and said himself that he was already thinking about moving on to Hamburg and trying to get some pre-Roland Garros rhythm there before facing Nadal in the quarterfinals. Instead, he played what was probably the finest match of his career, bossing a discombobulated Nadal – who was serving abysmally and struggling off the ground – around the court for a 6-2, 7-5 win.

Against Denis Shapovalov in the semifinals, Schwartzman wasn’t able to play quite the same attacking tennis he produced against Nadal, but instead relied on soaking up the pressure from the Canadian, outlasting him for unforced errors and passing him when he attacked the net. It worked, eventually, but only after the longest match of the tournament, a three-hour, 15-minute tussle in which both men were broken six times and Shapovalov served for the match before Schwartzman eventually edged it in a third-set tie-break, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(4).

Schwartzman has played good matches against Djokovic on clay before, stretching him to five at the French Open and to three in Rome last year. But the turnaround from last night’s late semifinal to Sunday’s final is a fairly brutal one. Schwartzman is also playing for a place in the top 10, a ranking milestone which clearly means a lot to him, which could bring out the best in him or cripple him with nerves.

Djokovic is not playing well enough to predict an overwhelming victory, but even in his difficult matches in Rome, he’s been able to tighten up his game when he had to: In the decider against Koepfer, in the second set against Ruud when he saved four break points. I don’t think there’s any question that Djokovic will win (nor does the market) but Schwartzman has always managed to make life interesting for him on clay before.

Djokovic vs Schwartzman: Prediction

Will Rafael Nadal maintain an unbeaten record against Diego Schwartzman when they clash in the quarterfinals of the Rome Masters on Saturday?

Nadal vs Schwartzman is live from Rome on Saturday 19 September, 8.30pm local/7.30pm BST

After six months out of competition, Rafael Nadal has dropped just six games in his first two matches at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia – can Diego Schwartzman make him work harder?

Rome Masters 2020: Find out tournament information for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and how to stream ATP Rome matches live

Argentina’s Schwartzman has shaken off poor form to reach the quarterfinals in Rome for the second straight year, but unless he can find a way to beat Nadal for the first time in ten attempts, he will be unable to repeat last year’s semifinal showing.

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Nadal vs Schwartzman live

Rome Masters matches including Rafael Nadal vs Diego Schwartzman are streamed live alongside odds and in-play betting at bet365.

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Nadal vs Schwartzman: Head-to-head

Rafael Nadal leads the head-to-head with Diego Schwartzman 9-0, and has won 22 of the 24 sets they have played.

Nadal vs Schwartzman: Preview

Rafael Nadal’s performances at the Rome Masters so far have made six months away from competition look like six days. The nine-time champion has lost just six games in his first two matches, and if a 6-1, 6-1 trouncing of recent US Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta could be explained by the younger Spaniard’s fatigue after his run in New York and having to make a brutally quick transition to a different surface, a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Dusan Lajovic proved that Nadal’s form is no illusion.

True, Lajovic has not been a difficult opponent for Nadal in the past, but the Serb was a runner-up at the Monte-Carlo Masters last May and truthfully he did play a lot better than the scoreline suggested against Nadal. In the first set, he was broken immediately but broke straight back for 1-1, and at 1-2, fended off six break points in a nine-deuce game before finally succumbing and being broken again. He would not win another game in that set and fell behind 1-4 in the second, but retrieved one of the breaks to valiantly pull himself back almost level before Nadal broke him one last time to love to close out the win in 91 minutes.

Nadal hit an absurdly good return winner off his forehand wing – off a very good serve, too – at a crucial moment in that lengthy 1-2 game, but his forehand was firing throughout, and his backhand was almost as good. Indeed, it was difficult to fault Nadal’s performance at all, and not just in the context of having been out of competition for six months.

With the French Open just over a week away, of course, there is no time to waste, but it’s still impressive that Nadal has been able to find his form so quickly and he is now one match away from a twelfth Rome Masters semifinal.

Diego Schwartzman made the semifinals of the Rome Masters in 2019 (PA Images)

Diego Schwartzman made his first Rome Masters semifinal in 2019, beating Kei Nishikori to do so before losing to Novak Djokovic in three sets. A three-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, including at the French Open in 2018 when he lost to Nadal in four, Schwartzman had a solid start to the year with an Australian Open fourth-round finish and an ATP Tour final in Cordoba, but hasn’t looked very good since the restart, going 1-2 in the USA before losing to qualifier Laslo Djere in the Kitzbuhel quarterfinals last week.

To be honest, Schwartzman’s form in Rome this week hasn’t been convincing either, and he’s benefited from a good draw: After a first-round bye, he beat John Millman 6-4, 7-6(1) before battling past big-serving Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Nadal’s head-to-head against Schwartzman speaks for itself: 9-0, and 22 of 24 sets won against the Argentine, who is an exceptional mover and defender but can only ever threaten Nadal by pushing himself to a level of aggression he’s unable to sustain. The only value you will find in this one is in backing Schwartzman to be able to push the scoreline past 6-3, 6-4, or in backing Nadal to win 6-2, 6-2 or more one-sidedly. I know which one looks more likely.

Nadal vs Schwartzman: Prediction