An unmissable journey through the particular year of Diego Schwartzman

Undoubtedly, the main tennis focus in Argentina is on him. And he knows it better than anyone, because in recent years he has been the benchmark in the most important tournaments in the world and because If currently we have to think of a name that can reach the top of the circuit, it is Diego Sebastián Schwartzman. A review of what his 2021 season was.

2021 was just beginning, back on January 4, he was ranked No. 9 in the ATP ranking. It was not his best mark, of course, because months ago, in October 2020 more precisely, he had managed to rank as the eighth best racket in the world. However, only one week he remained in that position and from there he dropped one position.

With all the uncertainty that the return of some tournaments generated even in the middle of the pandemic, Peque arrived at the Australian Open with the illusion of defending the fourth round obtained the previous year. What he did not know is that he was going to run into a crescent on the third wheel Aslan Karatsev, the Russian who at that time was the 114th and who was a revelation for having come from the qualy until the semifinals of the first Major of the season. In three sets, Diego said goodbye to Australia.

After that first big blow, the porteño had a fleeting passage through the ATP 250 of Córdoba, in which he said goodbye in the second round, and arrived at the Argentina Open as the top seed for the title. So it was.

Last week when I lost in Córdoba it seemed the worst in the world and today I have an immense joy. I wanted to play and wanted to play this way. Just as I ended up crying last year, today I cry a little too ”, was the sentence that he headed Schwartzman’s title in his city, in Buenos Aires, where an Argentine had not won the tournament for more than 13 years.

The victory in the final against Francisco Cerúndolo even gave him a plus, since this meant his first title in the country. While it had been close in 2019 (F) and 2020 (SF), curiously, the best national racket could not get a trophy in Argentina. Mission accomplished at the beginning of March.

His best mark at the Miami Masters 1000 was achieved this year after reaching the fourth round and, from there, Peque’s season entered a certain decline. Mainly because he started the tour on brick dust, his strength, and had the pressure to defend some important points.

Monte-Carlo, Madrid and Roma had something quite in common: in all three he started as seeded and could not overcome his debut. “If Monte-Carlo was an exam, I did not pass”He said just after the French tournament. Weeks later, highly self-critical and aware of his complex situation, he again recognized: “I have yet to find my best tennis.”

In the Foro Italico, the blow was even harder, since in the last two editions he had made the semifinals and final, respectively. Possibly the most difficult time of the year for Diego: meanwhile began to lose positions in the ranking and, for the start of Roland Garros, he was flirting with getting out of the Top Ten.

Anyway, at the Parisian Grand Slam he showed a change of air. He could not defend the 2020 semis, but he repeated the quarterfinals that he had already achieved in 2018. And his executioner was nothing more and nothing less than the owner of the house, Rafael Nadal.

On June 14, the 29-year-old from Buenos Aires officially ceased to be part of the 10 best tennis players in the world and at Wimbledon he wore No. 11. Having reached the third round, his performance matched that of 2019, thus far his best mark in the Major on grass.

In tokyo, the albiceleste tennis expectation was placed on him. In his first Olympic experience, after two games in which it cost him more than expected, reached the round of 16 and said goodbye after falling to Russian Karen Khachanov in straight sets. With him went the Argentine hopes in the hot Asian soil (quite questioned by the way due to the complex conditions in which they had to play), since there were no national singles in the table.

With the calendar late, the hard court tour arrived. Before arriving at the US Open, he went through two Masters 1000s: first Canada and then Cincinnati, and in both he did third round. In the first, he was one instance away from reaching his best mark (2017) and in the second, he equaled it (2019).

In New York, the US Open was shaping up to be a great challenge to face the final stage of the year. Twice the quarterfinals was his best mark, but he had come from doing the first round in 2020. In the first three games he really had no problems, in straight sets he settled in the Round of 16, although this is where it came: Botic van de Zandschulp appeared, the Dutchman who surprised locals and strangers. In five sets, Peque retired having leaving the feeling that it was for more.

Just 13 days after that fall, already ranked No. 15 in the world, Schwartzman dressed in light blue and white for the Davis Cup, against Belarus. Sometimes, the games that seem the most accessible from the papers end up being the most difficult. Y This is what happened to Diego in front of Daniil Ostapenkov, an 18-year-old without a tour of the circuit who beat him in straight sets.

The Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club witnessed an extremely tough defeat. “My match was disastrous, one of the worst I had”, He immediately questioned. He had his revenge the next day, he won and Argentina took one more step to return to the elite of the tournament. “People treat you very badly when you lose a match. They are ugly days, but on balance they treat you better ”, he commented to close a weekend with a taste of relief.

In September it went through the Laver Cup (1R) and San Diego (CF), to arrive in California in October, the headquarters of the Masters 1000 de Indian Wells. There he beat the rising Casper Ruud in the round of 16, which meant his first win against a Top Ten of the season, achieved his 200th victory on the circuit and excited Argentina. In the quarterfinals, against Cameron Norrie his dream was over, although he left an encouraging phrase for the season finale: “In this second part of the year I am finding a great level”.

With the intact hope of continuing to approach the ATP Finals in Turin, Peque got final in Antwerp. It was very close to being a perfect tournament, because he had not lost a set, but he came across a brutal Jannik Sinner in the deciding match, who swept and prevented him from reaching his fifth crown. Later, something similar happened to him in Vienna: When he was on the rise, he ran into Frances Tiafoe and did not reach the semifinals.

Finally, at the Masters 1000 in Paris made his debut although immediately in the second round the American Marcos Giron, who came from the qualy, put an end to his year.

Schwartzman failed to break into the season’s top eight, but closed 2021 with a special title and final, along with a 38-23 record. In addition, with its position No. 13 in the world, for third consecutive year is the South American to finish higher in the ranking.

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An unmissable journey through the particular year of Diego Schwartzman

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