Consistent Schwartzman Too Strong For Nishikori In Rome
Argentine to play Djokovic or compatriot Del Potro
Diego Schwartzman, competing on his favourite surface, out-hit fellow baseliner Kei Nishikori on Friday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia for a place in his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final.
In a match of several momentum shifts, Schwartzman used his forehand to great effect in a 6-4, 6-2 win over the sixth-seeded Japanese star, who had reached the 2016 semi-finals at the Foro Italico in Rome. It was Schwartzman’s first win over Nishikori in their fourth FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting.
The former World No. 11 will now look to advance to his second ATP Tour final of the season (after the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires) on Saturday when he faces World No. 1 and four-time former champion Novak Djokovic or his Argentine compatriot, seventh seed Juan Martin del Potro.
Schwartzman capitalised on Nishikori’s willingness to attack the net to take a 5-0 lead, breaking serve on his fourth break point chance in the second game, then to 15 in the fourth game. However, in hot, but windy conditions, Nishikori returned to his natural baseline game, posing a greater threat on his forehand and the short mis-court balls to win 18 of the next 22 points to leave Schwartzman sweating with a 5-4 advantage. Soon, Nishikori let his concentration slip with a forehand into the net on Schwartzman’s second set point to clinch the 48-minute opener.
Greater depth of groundstrokes from Schwartzman caught out Nishikori in the sixth game of the second set, when Nishikori’s mis-timed a forehand wide at 15/40. There was to be no respite from Schwartzman, who was moving well on the dry clay and powered his way to an 18th victory of 2019. Nishikori over-hit two forehands in the final game, and struck his second double fault to end the 87-minute match.
Nishikori, who broke a nine-final losing streak in January at the Brisbane International, where he captured his first ATP Tour title in 51 tournaments with victory over Daniil Medvedev. The 29-year-old is now 19-9 on the season.