London Masters: the hope Diego Schwartzman must cling to to dream of the semi-finals

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The Peque is a priori the least favorite to go to the round, but the tournament format can help him. This Monday he makes his debut against Novak Djokovic.

Diego Schwartzman will debut this Monday at 11am in Argentina at the London Masters. It will be against Novak Djokovic for the group “Tokyo 1970”, named after the first edition of the tournament, held 50 years ago. The Small, eighth seed of the tournament, is a priori the player with the least chances of getting into the semifinals. However, his great moment excites him with the possibility of giving a surprise. In addition, the contest opens the possibility of qualifying for the second phase with up to a single victory in the round robin.

Thus, although on paper his chances are very slim, the porteño could win a place among the four best of the British event. What will be the key to achieve it? Stay focused all the time, give nothing away and avoid easy defeats, because each set and each game won can weigh at the time of a tiebreaker to determine the final positions of the group.

The Masters is contested with a different system than most tournaments on the circuit. The eight players are divided into two zones and play free-for-all in the first stage, known as round robin. The best two from each zone advance to the second phase.

The final group standings are determined by the highest number of wins. If there is a tie, the number of games played is taken into account: a 2-1 record, for example, is better than a 2-0.

If the parity continues between two players, it is broken by the result of the match they played between them. If the tie is between three, the percentage of sets won, the percentage of games won and finally, the position in the world ranking after the last ATP tournament on the calendar are taken into account.

Last year, for example, Rafael Nadal was left out in the first stage because he was tied with two wins and one loss with Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev, but he closed the first phase with a lower percentage of sets won than the Greek and the German ( 50% versus 71% and 67%). Therefore, he was third in the group Andre Agassi and I do not pass the round.

In that particular format lies Schwartzman’s great hope to dream of a semi-final.

The Argentine arrived in London at the best moment of his career, after the break he experienced at the Masters 1000 in Rome. In the Italian capital he beat Nadal in the quarterfinals for the first time and lost the final to Djokovic. He then went through Roland Garros, where he reached his first Grand Slam semis and garnered enough points to break into the top ten for the first time.

And after playing another final in Cologne, where he lost to the German Zverev, one of his rivals in the London group, he signed up for the tournament in the British capital, reaching the quarterfinals in Paris.

Confident and with his tennis at a high level, Schwartzman warned in the preview of his debut in the O2 Arena Londoner who will not be satisfied with playing and who will go out to compete. But the scenario is not easy for him Small, who will be the only rookie in his group, therefore, the only one who will play for the first time on this surface.

He also fell by draw in the most complicated area for him: Djokovic, Russian Daniil Medvedev and Zverev, three players who, by history on hard courts indoor and for the present they are living, the more they could complicate it.

Djokovic, who will seek his sixth title of “Maestro” To equal Roger Federer’s record, he leads the history of confrontations with the porteño, whom he beat in the five duels they previously played.

Medvedev, four in the ranking and recent champion in Paris, is also unbeatable against the Argentine. They met four times, all with victories for the Russian. The last one, ten days ago in the quarters of that Masters 1000 in the French capital in which the European lifted the trophy.

Zverev, meanwhile, is the only one Schwartzman could already beat. The Small He beat him in two of the four previous clashes, although the German, number seven in the ranking, prevailed in the two matches that were played indoors. And he also arrived in London on the rise, after putting together three excellent performances in the last month in indoor concrete court dates: two titles in consecutive tournaments in Cologne and final in Paris.

Faced with this adverse scenario, it will be key that the Argentine make the most of every possibility that is presented to him in all his matches. You will need to win at least one of your three commitments. But also, in those who cannot celebrate, they must sell the defeat dearly, try to steal a set and win as many games as possible, to have “weapons” to win a hypothetical tiebreaker.

For that, he will have to play each game as if it were a final, stay focused, avoid the ups and downs or mental potholes and try to bring out his best tennis, the one that led him precisely to qualify for this tournament. And play very solid with his return, as he himself acknowledged.

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