In three of the past four Roland Garros editions, Diego Schwartzman has advanced to at least the quarter-finals. On each of those occasions, he has faced a daunting obstacle: 13-time champion Rafael Nadal. After falling short on the Parisian terre battue against the Spaniard for the third time on Wednesday, the Argentine made known his draw preference.
“I don’t want to be on the same side of the draw next time. I think I’m a very good player on clay. I did great tournaments here in Paris, but [I am] always losing against Rafa the past few years,” Schwartzman said, cracking a laugh. “In a semi-final, two times [the] quarters. I want to play maybe Nole [Novak Djokovic] next time, but not Rafa.”
Schwartzman is not the only player who would prefer to not play Nadal at the clay-court major. The legendary lefty is now 105-2 at Roland Garros. Before the Argentine won the second set of their quarter-final, Nadal had claimed 36 consecutive sets at the tournament.
“For anybody it’s very difficult to play against him. He’s feeling very comfortable on court. Everything is so nice for him on court. It’s very difficult to be close to the baseline sometimes, and he likes that,” Schwartzman said. “He feel like he’s doing everything to put you two, three metres behind the line. The court is really big and you start to play difficult games and difficult matches against him.”
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The fans inside Court Philippe-Chatrier showed their appreciation for Schwartzman throughout the match, and he was in position to potentially take a two-sets-to-one lead. The crowd greatly enjoyed the high level the 10th seed found to test Nadal.
“The crowd was unreal today, amazing. Playing again [in an] almost full stadium, a lot of people here in Paris, first time since two years ago, playing with the public and the crowd saying my name, everything was so nice,” Schwartzman said. “I think it was helping because I was feeling great on court. But I think at the end of the third set, they started to realise Rafa was maybe in [a difficult match], so they started to say his name, not any more my name.
“I think he deserved that, obviously. I think today [we] both enjoyed the match a lot with [the] crowd.”
As much as Schwartzman enjoyed the experience, he would have preferred to reach his second consecutive Roland Garros semi-final. Instead, he departs Paris with a 1-11 ATP Head2Head record against Nadal.
“At the end it’s very difficult. I had the chances today maybe in the third. I was close. I was playing a little bit better than him,” Schwartzman said. “At the end he’s Rafa and he always finds the way.”