Each one on their own, the two go through the best moments of their careers. In the semifinals, Nadia will collide with the Polish youth Swiatek. Diego will have nothing less than Nadal.
It is autumn in a Paris that does not stop suffering from the persistent patterings of a coronavirus that resists leaving, as in the entire planet. But Paris is always Paris. And Roland Garros never stops being Roland Garros. As much as it is autumn. As much as the virus continues to alter everyone’s routines. Many of the great history of tennis were built on French brick dust. And that’s what Nadia Podoroska and Diego Schwartzman are doing, two who, what a coincidence, not only share the same nickname. The other common factor, the most important, is that they are playing the tennis of their lives and are already installed among the four best of this peculiar last Grand Slam of the year – something that had not happened with Argentines since 2004 in both tables. Best of all, neither of you is satisfied. They both want more. The two go for more.
“I always go for all of them”, warns a Podoroska dressed as a “civilian”, freshly bathed and with a smile that she cannot erase from her face. More than an hour had passed since the victory over Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, world number five and third-seeded among women. It was 6-2 and 6-4 in just 76 minutes of play in a Phillippe Chatrier that dawned, like all this tournament, with the wind and humidity bothering the protagonists.
But none of that bothered Rosario, who was in charge of showing her best repertoire to a Svitolina who hours before, with top ten airs and with admirable sincerity, had confessed that she did not know anything about her rival. Now the Ukrainian, a partner of the charismatic Frenchman Gael Monfils, knows how Rosario plays. Despite losing serve at the start of the match, Podoroska used all her variety of shots on the legendary clay of Phillippe Chatrier. Angled forehands, withering parallel setbacks and constant changes of pace helped her build a near-perfect set with two lost games, curiously with her serve.
Podoroska did not slacken in the second quarter and quickly went 1-0 without giving up points on her serve. But the nerves of the unknown surfaced, logical for someone who until this unforgettable Parisian adventure had only played – and lost – his only Grand Slam match. For that reason, and nothing more than that, the game became more close, with many service breaks. However, at the moment of truth, Argentina did not lose its pulse. At the third match point, with a winning two-handed backhand, the story ended. Racket in the air, arms raised. And that smile that decided to live on her face.
It is not for less. Two weeks ago he would have been content to get around the qualifying stage and play a handful of games in Paris. Now she already has eight consecutive wins and not only became the fifth Argentine to reach this stage at Roland Garros, behind Raquel Giscafré, Gabriela Sabatini (she did it five times), Clarisa Fernández and Paola Suárez, but also in the first tennis player to be installed in the top four starting from qualifying.
A huge milestone for the Peque, which has also secured a place among the 50 best in the world and has already pocketed more than 400 thousand euros in prizes that end up taking out of his head the concerns of economic sustenance to bank the costs of playing in The circuit. And it could be more, of course: it is that on Thursday he will seek to take another step when he faces the Polish Iga Swiatek, just 19 years old, 54th in the world and also a first in these instances, who struck the blow in the round of 16 by taking out the race Simona Halep and this Tuesday she defeated the Italian Gloria Trevisan 6-3 and 6-1.
Podoroska had to wait more than six hours to learn that the rising Swiatek would be her rival. It is that in the middle there was an epic battle whose protagonist and winner was Schwartzman, the other Peque, a giant in a small container who knows no limits and who defeated after five hours and eight minutes the Austrian Dominic Thiem, number three of the planet and recent champion of the Open of the United States.
It was 7-6 (1), 5-7, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5) and 6-2 for the Argentine who not only stars in his best performance in a Grand Slam but also adds the necessary points to sneak into the elite of the top ten.
“I’m still in the tournament and I really want to keep winning”, warned Schwartzman, who played a spectacular match maintaining that level that he began to show at the Masters 1000 in Rome, where he eliminated Rafael Nadal and just succumbed in the final against Serbian Novak Djokovic. Yes, in less than two weeks, he beat two and three in the world and two of the best exponents of today on slow courts.
It cost Schwartzman, who had reached the quarterfinals without losing sets, due to the hierarchy of a Thiem a little decimated in the physical after the marathon that was the victory over the promising Frenchman Hugo Gastón. The porteño, played at a superlative level, put on the court, ready to run all the balls and not give respite to that physical marvel that is the Austrian.
Peque played a brilliant first set, who then missed invaluable opportunities in the second and third inning. Tireless, determined never to lower his arms, he took the fourth quarter that seemed to be eluding him from the galley and, mentally strengthened, he finished his rival with a fifth set that was close to perfection.
“That we are both in the semifinals is spectacular, it is a spectacle … But the tournament continues both for me and for Nadia,” said Schwartzman, whose presence in the semifinals is the first for an Argentine since 2018, when Juan Martín Del Potro, in one of his many rebirths, he lost to Nadal. Precisely, the Small wait for the Spaniard, who is on his way to his thirteenth coronation in Paris and beat the young Italian prodigy Jannick Sinner in the quarterfinals. That’s how high the next rung is. One of those that climbs with Podoroska in a Paris as different as it is unforgettable.