With a majority of the 2020 tennis season cancelled due to the covid-19 pandemic and rankings frozen a new qualifier for the tour finals in London was always going to be a tough ask but Diego Schwartzman stood up to the challenge and has continued to improve throughout a year without structure.
Diego who is now 28 was just a few years ago was battling in qualifying for a Masters 1000 event and this year made his first final in Rome and first major semi-final at Roland Garros.
It has been a great effort not just this year but over the years from Diego to now be a top ten ranking player. I think it is unfair to sometimes look at results at big tournaments to judge someone but he has spent over three years ranked between 14 and 40 on the tour which is impressive in itself to have that consistency and find his best tennis in the latter stages of his career.
In a tough year the Argentine has been a breath of fresh air and thoroughly deserves his place in London. The decision to freeze the rankings by the ATP was the right decision in this pandemic but made it tough for players to qualify for London.
Points wouldn’t drop off but would only be picked up, you could defend a title but not win points. At the beginning of August before tennis resumed the Argentine was 23rd in the rankings with just over 1600 points and now he is at number 9 with 3285 points and a chance to pick up more in London.
A lot has impressed me including his win over Nadal in Rome which was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen, likewise with his win over Dominic Thiem at Roland Garros which was magical.
The problem is a lack of experience on indoor hard courts. Depending on your schedule you might only play two or three events a year on the surface. Coming to London he has 27 wins and 21 defeats indoor which isn’t ideal but is the situation, he has earned his place here but it will be a tough challenge for Diego.
I wouldn’t say there is pressure on him but he will be wary of the environment, he won’t want to turn up and go in a flash which in-form debutants have done before. The concern will be 2-6 1-6 (vs Zverev in Cologne) and 3-6 1-6 defeats (vs Medvedev in Paris) against two players who will be in London.
This will be his biggest test, it’s a relentless week and something he wouldn’t have experienced before and I hope will propel him further into 2021 and to have a great and fun run in London.
Diego has 9 top ten career wins and only one on indoor hard courts against Khachanov in Vienna last year.