After the masterpiece signed against Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals, Diego Schwartzman beats Denis Shapovalov in what is likely to be remembered as the match of the year and hits the first career final at the 1000 level.
The 6-4 5-7 7-6 (4) final, matured after three hours and 13 minutes of authentic show, allows the Argentine to improve the already excellent result achieved at the Internazionali d'Italia twelve months ago, when Schwartzman was pushed to the semifinals.
The opponent who defeated him last year, at the end of a battle lasting almost three hours, will be the same one that Diego will face tomorrow, for what promises to be the most important match of his career: Novak Djokovic.
The precedents see the Serb ahead 4-0, but the two matches played on red were both in the name of balance: in addition to the aforementioned semifinal in Rome 2019, Djokovic and Schwartzman also battled at Roland Garros 2017, with the Belgrade capable of winning only in the fifth set.
This, combined with Nole's suboptimal state of form, would suggest a far from one-way final, even if everything will depend on the Argentine's ability to recover his energy after two battles such as those that saw him protagonist (and victorious ) between quarters and seeds.
Italian Open ATP Masters 1000: Novak Djokovic vs Diego Schartzman
It's all Shapovalov in the first set. With a disastrous game, topped off by two double faults, the Canadian immediately gave the opponent the break, who then ran away 3-0.
After the recklessness, however, the genius arrives: between forehand tracks and jumping backhands, Shapo remains in the wake of the score and then uses Schwartzman's arm to make the counter-break at the photo finish.
On the serve to catch parity, the '99 class lacks two balls of 5-5, cancels a first set point with a perfect serve-forehand combination but then capitulates with two serious forehand errors sent under the tape. The music changes in the second set, with an inspired Shapovalov running ahead of a break in the fifth game.
The Canadian, who delights the few crowd present on the Central with plays of the highest technical level, wins two more break points in the seventh game, but Schwartzman is good at saving himself and staying in the wake of the score.
After a dominated set on the serve, Shapo is betrayed by the first at the decisive moment, when it serves to extend the match to the third: ahead of a 15, the Canadian wastes with the forehand and delivers the counter-break with a bloody double fault.
However, Schwartzman also shows he is not a lion's heart, missing a 6-5 ball with a double foul and then suffering the aggression of the Canadian, who immediately regains the advantage of the break. Called again to serve to force the match to the third, Shapovalov does not miss this time the appointment with the set, closing at 7-5 after having canceled a dangerous counter-break ball with a millimeter backhand down the line.
The battle with no holds barred continues in the third set: the Canadian is immediately forced to overtime, saving three break points in the first round of service, but then regains a Martian level of play and breaks the opponent's serve with a series of blows science fiction.
The tension and fatigue are felt, and moments of great tennis alternate with moments in which mistakes are the masters: if Shapo immediately loses the advantage with a game to forget, in the next game it is Schwartzman who mentally leaves the scene and return the precious break advantage to the opponent.
The Argentine's pressure does not decrease, and indeed in the eighth game two break points arrive for him, which Shapovalov cancels with two authentic spells. The third break point is the good one: this time the Canadian's forehand goes out under the tape and gives the South American a 4-4.
But the whirlwind of emotions shows no sign of running out: in the next game, Shapovalov flies to 15-40 closing with an inside-in forehand one of the most spectacular exchanges of the tournament. Schwartzman's reply arrives punctually, dating back 30-40 and then also cancels the second break point at the end of another exchange too good to be true.
In the end, however, the South American can not help but surrender, after yet another row hit by a splendid backhand down the line of the wild Canadian. Ahead of a break for the third time in the set, for the third time Shapovalov makes himself recover, playing a bad tenth game and seeing the opportunity to serve for the match vanish.
Without further jolts, he arrives at the tie-break, where the Canadian immediately scratches the mini-break with a great straight response on a timid second of the opponent. Even in the tie-break, as happened throughout the game, the reversals in front there is no shortage: a straight in the corridor and yet another double fault allow Schwartzman to take the 2-1 and serve.
Ahead 4-2, the South American would have a mini-match point at his disposal, but he blatantly fails a comfortable backhand passer and thus allows the opponent to make up for 3-4. In the decisive moment, however, what makes the difference is the greater experience of Schwartzman, who remains solid from the bottom and archives the practice at 7-4 after more than three hours of heavenly tennis