Schwartzman Stifles Pouille For QF Berth
The size of the fighter is irrelevant. It's the fighter's fight that makes all the difference.
That has been the mantra of Diego Schwartzman throughout his career and he has put that on display for the world to see at the US Open. Schwartzman fought off a leg injury and a stern test from Lucas Pouille to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final in New York on Sunday. The Argentine outlasted Pouille 7-6(3), 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 in two hours and 35 minutes, firing 44 winners including nine aces.
The 25 year old was efficient on return as well, converting an impressive seven of nine break chances. At 5'7", Schwartzman is the shortest Grand Slam quarter-finalist since fellow 5'7" South American Jaime Yzaga at the 1994 US Open.
Having won just one match in three previous trips to New York, the 29th seed was keen to seize the opportunity in the bottom half of the draw. Schwartzman played the role of giant slayer in rallying past fifth seed and former champion Marin Cilic in four sets and would do the same in ousting Pouille, who reached the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows last year.
"All the matches, they are helping me a lot," Schwartzman said of the support of the New York crowd. "In the first round and second round as well, they are helping me a lot. When it's a tough moment, they are making noise with me, just to be with me in the match. That is helping me a lot. I am really happy for that and thanks to everyone for doing that."
Schwartzman proved to be an unstoppable force on Grandstand on Sunday, flying around the court and launching his diminutive frame into forehands and backhands. A forehand winner would seal the opener in a tie-break and, after exchanging a pair of breaks midway through the second, he would take a two-set lead with another rifled forehand.
Momentum abruptly shifted in the third set, with Pouille breaking twice to force a fourth. An emotional Schwartzman received treatment on his upper right leg, but his agility was not hampered. And he remained focused on the finish line after falling behind an early break in the fourth, breaking right back to love and reeling off five straight games to emerge victorious after just over two and a half hours.
Schwartzman is in the best form of his career, having reached his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final three weeks ago in Montreal, registering his first Top 10 win over Dominic Thiem. Projected to rise to a career-high Top 30 position in the Emirates ATP Rankings, he will next face 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta in the quarter-finals on Tuesday. A massive opportunity awaits, in what will be the first clash of their careers.
"It's going to be really nice for me," Schwartzman said about playing Carreno Busta. "I am really happy to be in the quarter-finals this year. Even more because Pablo is my friend outside the court. We have a good relationship in the locker room and we have a lot of things outside the tennis life. It's going to be really nice for both of us to play in the quarter-finals here in a Grand Slam. It is nice."
Fellow Argentine Juan Martin del Potro will look to join his countryman in the quarter-finals on Monday, when he battles Dominic Thiem. The last time multiple players from South America featured in the last eight in New York was in 2009: eventual champion Del Potro and Chile's Fernando Gonzalez.
DID YOU KNOW?
Schwartzman is coached by former World No. 15 Juan Ignacio Chela, who advanced to his lone quarter-final at the US Open exactly 10 years ago, in 2007. Chela fell to David Ferrer in straight sets.