The time Diego Schwartzman had come closest to Nadal's racket was on a hectic afternoon at Roland Garros.
It was the quarters of 2018 and, with the plaintive sky, the Argentine was getting his friend Rafa in trouble when the rain forced the game to stop.
In the resumption everything returned to normal and
He went to the locker room with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 and 6-2 in his backpack.
There were nine appointments between the two and Diego, like so many others, had not found the formula to overcome him, despite posing more difficulties than those often collected by the numbers.
At the tenth, in Rome, quarter-finals, after an excellent performance, he managed to defeat him this Saturday: 6-2 and 7-5, in two hours and three minutes.
He will be the one who will face Denis Shapovalov in the semifinals today (7pm CET).
At 2:00 p.m.
Novak Djokovic and Casper Ruud will seek first place in the final.
Old acquaintances, friends off the court, also used to making gloves during tournaments, both know well what each one plays.
Conditioned by his stature, the Argentine makes the most of his virtues, which are not few.
It holds up very well with the two-handed backhand, with which it pulls in both directions, opens up angles, and builds exquisite drops.
Nobody had managed to get ahead of Nadal in this tournament.
He did it, who after saving a break ball in the fourth game broke a blank in the fifth.
With his commitments against Carreño and Lajovic settled without setbacks, the nine-time winner of the tournament had a very different situation before him.
Pressure on the 'drive'
Schwartzman likes to attack Nadal on his
, corner him on his good side to launch the parallel backhand when the opportunity presents itself.
The formula worked for him during the first set.
He had a 5-2 ball and served, but the Spanish neutralized it with an open serve and
The same idea did not prosper in the second threat, this time with second service.
The left-hander did not work the serve (43% in the final aggregate), he was confused, not knowing where to put his hand into the game.
Then, at the service, the Buenos Aires native took advantage of his third set ball.
At 28 years old, despite having only three second-order titles, Schwartzman is a player who has been in the
for several seasons, a cool guy, a good competitor.
A year ago, on the same stage, also at night, then in the semifinals and with an audience in the stands, he passed Cain's to Novak Djokovic before bowing in three sets after two and a half hours of battle.
Again intimidated with two
in the opening game of the second set, the Manacor did not take flight with his serve.
He always went to slipstream, lifted the ball and tried to modify heights, but wherever he put the ball his opponent appeared, fast, attentive, meticulous in each of his actions.
Schwartzman moved like a squirrel, all smell, speed, instinct.
After having opportunities in all games for the rest of the second set, the Argentine was two games from the victory after breaking in the seventh: 4-3 and service.
He was closer than ever to achieving the victory he had sought for seven years, since the first of his confrontations, in Acapulco, where he lost by a double 6-2.
He couldn't accelerate when he wanted to, but at 4-4, he broke once again, for the fourth time in the match.
He also did not find the way out: Nadal returned the game blank.
There would be another bullet for Diego, capable of knocking down the serve of the number two in the world again.
It would serve for the second time to stand in the semifinals.
This time, he did make his triumph.
one got it big.
In the net.
Like the brave.
According to the criteria of The Trust Project
TennisNadal does not give Carreño a break in his convincing return to the courts
TennisNadal does not give Lajovic an option either and is already in the quarterfinals
US Open and finally, a 90s champion in New York
See links of interest
The time trial that will decide the Tour, live: Lure - La Planche des Belles Filles
Villarreal - Eibar
Getafe - Osasuna
Quarterfinals of the Rome Masters, live: Rafael Nadal - Diego Schwartzman
Celta de Vigo - Valencia CF