There are three opponents who would be more favorable to you in theory, looking at the history, recent results of the participants and their histories in indoor hard court tournaments.
Diego Schwartzman will have the pleasure of closing the best year of his career in pure tennis, competing face to face with the best, from Monday 16, at the London Masters, which brings together the best eight rackets of the season.
The Small, last to qualify thanks to a series of results in the Paris Masters 1000, will arrive in the British capital as the player with the least chance of reaching the semifinals. Although his great moment excites him with the possibility of giving a surprise. Which group would present the best scenario for the Argentine in the first phase?
Looking at the head-to-head stats, recent participant results and their stories at the Masters and indoor hard court tournaments, Schwartzman would be better off “falling” in the same zone as Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The format of the tournament places the two top favorites as heads of the groups and then raffles the position of the rest, dividing them in pairs: the third to one group and the fourth to the other, and so on.
Thus the Argentine will have to face yes or yes one of the two best in the world ranking: Novak Djokovic, number one, or Nadal, two. And Spanish emerges as the “most accessible”, with all the quotes that can be used.
Nole he feels more comfortable than the Mallorcan on the indoor courts where the last part of the season is played. In this type of scenario, the Serbian accumulates 13 titles, including five for “Master” and as many at the Paris Masters.
Rafa he still could not conquer either of those two tournaments, the most important in the courts hard indoor. Who for 15 years clearly dominates in brick dust won just one trophy in indoor cement, in the 2005 Madrid Masters 1000, which that year was still played on that surface. In Paris he reached the final in 2007 and in London, in 2010 and 2013.
Schwartzman’s second rival in the group will be Thiem, third-seeded, or Daniil Medvedev, fourth. By ranking and by experience, the Austrian, champion this year at the US Open, represents a greater threat. However, by present and by past confrontations, the Russian is emerging as a tougher opponent.
Thiem will arrive without much pace of competition on this surface. He only played the ATP from Viena -He fell in the quarterfinals- and got out of Paris with a right foot injury. Medvedev, on the other hand, will disembark in London with high confidence and his tennis at a high level, after being crowned champion at the Masters 1000 in the French capital.
The number five in the ranking raised a one-set deficit and beat German Alexander Zverev 5-7, 6-4 and 6-1, who had just lost Nadal in the semis, in the final at Paris-Bercy. Thus, he added his third title in this category of tournaments, after those he won last year in Cincinnati and Shanghai.
Schwartzman already knows how to beat the Austrian. He did so on three of the six times they crossed paths, including the last one, just under a month ago, in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros. Although Thiem prevailed in the only match they played on indoor hard courts, last year in Vienna.
Before Medvedev, on the other hand, the Small he still couldn’t celebrate. The Russian won the four duels they played in the past. The most recent, last Friday, in the quarterfinals in Paris. They also defeated him in Tokyo in 2018, in another match they played on that same surface.
The last player Schwartzman will have to face in the first phase will be Tsitsipas, fifth seed, or Zverev, seventh. And the moments that each one goes through place the Greek as the rival against whom the Argentine would have the best chance of succeeding.
Tsitsipas didn’t have a good indoor tour. He lost in the second round in Vienna to the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, 20th in the ranking, and said goodbye in the same instance in Paris, where he was free on the first wheel as second favorite and fell in the debut against the local Ugo Humbert, 34°.
Zverev, on the other hand, has put together great performances in the last three weeks. In mid-October, it was crowned at the ATP in Cologne, one of the appointments that was added to the calendar only for this year due to the pandemic. The following week he celebrated another title on the same stage, with a victory over Schwartzman. And then he reached the final of the Paris Masters, which he lost this Sunday to Medvedev.
Beyond the fact that on paper, some rivals may seem more “simple” than others, the reality is that Schwartzman will not start as a favorite in any of his games. Not even if he manages to advance to the second stage and has to face in that direct elimination box Andrey Rublev, seventh seeded and the only one he could not cross in the round robin.