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Italian Open 2020 – Men’s Singles Final – Novak Djokovic vs Diego Schwartzman

Novak Djokovic created history yesterday when he won the Italian Open in Rome. The Serbian now holds the most number of Masters 1000 titles, 36 to be exact. He surpassed Rafael Nadal who holds 35 of the same.

His opponent Diego Schwartzman was aiming to become only the 5th Argentine in tennis history to win a Masters 1000 tournament alongside Guillermo Canas, Guillermo Coria, David Nalbandian and Jaun Martin del Potro.

The contest between two players who miraculously find ways to return the ball back over to the other side of the net was end to end. These two have proved on countless occasions that they have the legs to go the extra mile and did so once again. Clay courts are perfect for players like Novak and Diego, and it was on display for viewers in the hard-fought 2 set match.

Italian Open 2020 – Men’s Singles Final – Novak Djokovic vs Diego Schwartzman
Image Courtesy : Twitter.com

Path to the Final for Djokovic and Schwartzman

Novak Djokovic

Djokovic faced some challenges before the final. He had to defend 2 set points against Casper Ruud in the first set of the semi-final but then went on to win the set. The second set was rather easy for Novak and he safely made his way to the final with a 7-5, 6-3 win. His quarter-final against Dominik Koepfer was a 3 set affair. Koepfer fought back from 4-0 down in the first set and broke Djokovic back twice to be on serve. Djokovic pressed the issue and won the first set 6-3. Koepfer raised his level in the second set and won it 6-4. But Djokovic was gifted a break in the third set and went on to win the match 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. His run to the final looked as follows:

Round of 32: defeated Salvatore Caruso 6-3, 6-2

Round of 16: defeated Filip Krajinović 7-6, 6-3

Quarter Final: defeated Dominik Koepfer 6-3, 4-6, 6-3

Semi-Final: defeated Casper Ruud 7-5, 6-3

 

Diego Schwartzman

Schwartzman faced a much more challenging draw than Djokovic. He faced John Millman, Denis Shapovalov and the king of clay Rafael Nadal as well. Having played two 3 set matches in such a short span, Schwartzman was definitely coming into the Final with wearier legs. He had run almost 3.5 kilometers more than Djokovic in the four matches they had played before the Final. His best win came against Rafael Nadal. He targeted Nadal’s backhand incessantly and eventually got the win. This was Schwartzman’s first win against Nadal in the 10 times he has faced him. Schwartzman’s run to the final looked as follows:

Round of 32: defeated John Millman 6-4, 7-6

Round of 16: defeated Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-2, 6-4

Quarter Final: defeated Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-5

Semi-Final: defeated Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 5-7, 7-6

Also Read: Italian Open 2020 – Women’s Singles Final – Simona Halep vs Karolina Pliskova

How the match progressed

Set 1:

The match began with Djokovic’s serve, and he was raring to go. He went for some big shots but was plagued with unforced errors at the start of the match. Schwartzman capitalized on this and broke Djokovic’s serve in the first game itself. After holding his serve, Schwartzman broke again and led the set 3-0. But the champion within Djokovic could not be kept at bay for too long. He came back into the set by breaking Schwartzman’s serve twice. The two held their service until Schwartzman was down 6-5 and had to serve to stay in the set. Diego’s most crucial game in Set 1 began poorly. He quickly went 0-40 down due to a double fault and an unforced error on his down the line backhand winner attempt. His best attempts at defending three set points were in vain, as Djokovic sealed the set 7-5.

Set 2:

The second set began just like the first, with Schwartzman breaking Djokovic’s serve. But this time Novak was quick to respond and broke Schwartzman back immediately in the next game. Djokovic needed only one more break, which came in the 8th game of the set (taking the score to 5-3) to get his chance to serve for the set. Djokovic raced to 40-0 lead, but Schwartzman fought back to save 2 Championship Points. Possibly the best point of the game was the last one, where the two played an exquisite rally. Schwartzman was dragged all around the court and he returned all of Djokovic’s shots, but the drop shot return was pushed wide.

The match featured a lot of drop shots. Djokovic and Schwartzman used 20 and 8 drop shots respectively. Schwartzman’s immaculate defending from deep behind the baseline meant that he would lose a lot of energy chasing drop shots as well. The endless running definitely wore Schwartzman down. This tactic was so heavily featured that it was played even in the Championship Point.

Djokovic won the Italian Open Final 7-5, 6-3 but the match was more closely contested than the scoreline suggests. Not only did Novak become the leader in the most Masters 1000 titles category, but he also maintained his staggering 28-0 record in Masters 1000 finals where he has won the first set.

Novak Djokovic must be feeling immensely confident after winning the only Masters 1000 event in the run-up to the French Open which is due to start in just a week.

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