Novak Djokovic looks to move one step further to completing the Madrid-Rome double on Saturday night when he takes on Diego Schwartzman for a spot in the final. It will be known by then whether a much anticipated final with Nadal or a Madrid rematch against Tsitsipas awaits Djokovic should he win.
Schwartzman, a 2018 French Open quarter finalist, has always been confident on clay and has several titles in smaller events on the surface. When it came to the bigger the tournaments, there was a ceiling with his best runs being quarter finals in Monte Carlo and the French Open. He has had a great week, winning two straight setters on a busy Thursday to keep himself fresh for Friday. He then outplayed Kei Nishikori with the 6-4 6-2 win providing a major confidence boost for the Argentinian. “I didn’t start the clay season well, and I needed two matches in a row of playing good tennis,” Schwartzman said. “I’m very happy to get back, to feel good again. It was really important for me, was a big day for me.”
It was almost an all-Argentina semi final but Djokovic came back from the brink to earn his spot in the semi finals, saving set points in an epic 4-6 7-6 6-4 comeback victory. A beautifully executed drop shot on the second of his match point saves looked to be the turning point for the Serbian, who also had to save break points in the third before clinching victory. He did recognise his struggles against an opponent in the zone for much of the early parts of the match. “I lost probably the positioning of the court over him. Towards the end of the first, he just started hitting the ball really well from both corners, also backhand side, backhand down the line. He was playing really well, gave me a lot of trouble,” Djokovic said.
Djokovic will be expected to advance here fairly comfortably, having already defeated Schwartzman in their previous two meeting. The second of those was a surprisingly tough five setter at Roland Garros, where Djokovic had to come from 1-2 down – dropping just two games in the final two sets of the win there.
Prediction – Novak Djokovic in straight sets