Novak Djokovic targets fifth Rome Masters title as he faces Diego Schwartzman, the dogged Argentine playing his first Masters final,…
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.
Novak Djokovic vs Diego Schwartzman | ATP Rome Masters final | 21/9/2020, 4pm BSTOver 2.5 sets 19/10 Bet Now! New Customers only. 18+. T&C’s Apply. begambleaware.org.
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.
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.
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.