NEW YORK.– For approximately two hours, American Jack Sock (currently 107th in the world; 8th in 2017) put Diego Schwartzman on the ropes. Champion of the Paris-Bercy Masters 1000 five seasons ago and then converted into an outstanding and creative doubles player, the local surprised El Peque at the end of the second day of the US Open, taking over the first two sets (6-3 and 7- 5). However, a puncture in the lower back collapsed him. After being treated by the physical therapist before the third set, he showed practically no more resistance and the 14th-seeded Argentine easily took over the third set (6-0). And when Schwartzman was 1-0 in the fourth quarter, Sock retired and Peque managed to advance to the second round of the New York major.
The porteño, the best South American in the world ranking, made his ninth consecutive appearance in the main draw of the US Open, where his best results were the quarterfinals in 2017 and 2019. Last year, he also climbed to fourth stage. Against Sock, Schwartzman won a Grand Slam match for the third time in his career after starting 0-2 in sets (the other times were at Roland Garros, against Spaniard Jaume Munar in the second round this season, and against South African Kevin Anderson, in the fourth of 2018).
Schwartzman lost three times in his debuts at Flushing Meadows: in 2014 against Novak Djokovic, then number 1; in 2016 against Juan Martín del Potro, and in 2020 against British southpaw Cameron Norrie. At midnight on Tuesday New Yorker was able to add a fourth frustration, but he was resistant, took advantage of his rival’s physical decline and ended up relieved, taking photos with a handful of Latin Americans who cheered him from the seats of the Louis Armstrong Stadium, the second stage in importance of the complex.
On Thursday, Schwartzman’s opponent in the last major of the year will be the Australian Alexei Popyrin (84th, 23 years old, 1.96 meters), who defeated Chun-hsin Tseng (Taipei) in three sets. Of course, the player trained by Juan Ignacio Chela will have to improve his records. Against Sock he gave up serve four times, committed five double faults, hit 64% of first serves, won 67% of points on the first serve and 52% on the second. Diego committed 22 unforced errors against 54 for the American, who, being physically limited, risked in each execution.
“It is incredible that, playing against an American, I hear ‘olé, olé, olé, olé, Diegooo, Diegooo’. I really appreciate the public support. This is a place where I feel comfortable. I hope to keep improving and moving forward,” said Schwartzman, 30. After reaching the round of 16 of the last Roland Garros, El Peque entered tennis uncertainty and zigzagging, with more disappointments than satisfactions. Regardless, he continued to search for solutions to get closer to a high level. The US Open is a big event in which he knew how to enhance himself in the past. Why couldn’t history repeat itself now? He suffered, but managed to escape. And soon he will have another chance.