Photo: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Things might have been oh so different for Diego Schwartzman in his very first ATP Masters 1000 final. The nimble Argentine had produced a handful of impressive scalps to reach the title match in Rome, including victories over World No. 2 Rafael Nadal and Canada’s latest Top 10 superstar Denis Shapovalov.
And a few minutes into this match against the world’s best men’s player, Novak Djokovic, you’d be forgiven for thinking he was on his way to yet another impressive victory.
That was, until Djokovic started being Djokovic…
Schwartzman, ranked No. 15, had a winless record against the Serb heading into the final, including a loss to the 33-year-old in the previous year’s Italian Open at the semi-final stage. But after three games here, he was 3-0 up.
Unfortunately, he just couldn’t keep up the intensity and saw his serve broken three times as Djokovic claimed the first set 7-5. Although, it’s worth mentioning that Schwartzman did have a set point of his own at 30:40 in the tenth game.
Djokovic, who had claimed victories over Italy’s Salvatore Caruso, fellow Serbian Filip Krajinović, German Dominik Koepfer and Norway’s Casper Ruud – all unseeded, had a scare at the start of the second set as Schwartzman broke his serve at the first available opportunity.
However, as has become custom over the years, Djokovic broke right back and then again a few games later to make it 5-3. From there, the Serbian needed three match points to seal the match, and the title, but it all seemed rather inevitable as he cruised to victory.