Schwartzman Downs Murray In Antwerp
Diego Schwartzman had to bide his time before getting his shot at Andy Murray. Collectively, the Argentine and Scot have played more than 1,250 tour-level matches and their careers have overlapped by more than a decade. But until Thursday, they had never faced off.
But Schwartzman made sure to make the long-awaited moment count when he toughed out a 6-4, 7-6(6) win over the former World No. 1 to reach the quarter-finals of the European Open in Antwerp.
The 29-year-old, who reached back-to-back finals in Antwerp in 2016 and 2017, played consistently from the baseline and demonstrated his fighting skills as rallied from 1-4 down in the first set, before advancing in two hours and 15 minutes.
"It was a pleasure to play against Andy,” Schwartzman said in his on-court interview. “We had not played before and he is coming back and every week he is playing better and moving better. I have a lot of respect because when I grew up playing tennis, I was watching Roger [Federer], Rafa [Nadal], Andy and Novak [Djokovic] and right now playing against him, is a pleasure for me.”
Schwartzman arrived in Antwerp after he reached the last eight in Indian Wells, where he defeated Daniel Evans and Casper Ruud before falling to eventual champion Cameron Norrie. The World No. 14 also advanced to the quarter-finals in San Diego.
The 29-year-old now leads Murray 1-0 in their ATP Head2Head series and will face #NextGenATP American Brandon Nakashima in the last eight. Earlier this season, Schwartzman captured his fourth ATP Tour title on home soil in Buenos Aires and reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros.
“I really like to play here,” Schwartzman added. “I like the city and the story. It is a very special city for me because when I started to play my best tennis, I reached the finals here twice. I also enjoy it here with the people. It is special after so many months with playing without crowds.”
In a lively start, Murray played aggressively as he hit his groundstrokes with power and depth to outmanoeuvre Schwartzman and move 4-1 ahead. However, the Argentine began to find his range and as Murray began to drop the ball short, Schwartzman started to dictate, winning five straight games to lead.
Fuelled by momentum, the 29-year-old broke in the fifth game of the second set, but was unable to close out the match, with Murray pegging the Argentine back as they moved to a tie-break. In a tight tie-break, Murray saved a match point at 5/6 with one of the eight aces he hit in the match. But the Scot was unable to keep Schwartzman at bay, with the second seed advancing when Murray pushed a forehand long.
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Murray, who won the title in Antwerp in 2019, saved two match points in his first-round victory against American Frances Tiafoe that lasted three hours and 45 minutes. The wild card was aiming to reach his second tour-level quarter-final of the season, having enjoyed a run to the last eight in Metz.
Schwartzman's next opponent, Nakashima, clawed past Swiss Henri Laaksonen 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 6-3 after two hours and 24 minutes.
Nakashima is pursuing a spot in the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals. The American began the week in eighth in the ATP Race To Milan.