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Denis Shapovalov and Diego Schwartzman will meet for the first time in the Rome semi-finals.

Rome SF Preview: Schwartzman, Shapovalov Seek First Rome Final

Djokovic beat Ruud in the first semi-final

There is a big opportunity in the bottom half of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia draw, as eighth seed Diego Schwartzman plays 12th seed Denis Shapovalov for a spot in the final against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

If Schwartzman lifts his first Masters 1000 trophy on Monday, he will crack the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time. If anything else happens, Shapovalov will achieve that same feat.

"Denis [is a] great player," said Schwartzman, who upset nine-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal on Saturday. "He's a very good guy. He's playing every week better and better. He's going to be tough.

"It's a different game than Rafa. He maybe has three, four games unreal and then you have a chance because he [makes] mistakes. But he's playing [consistently] the past few weeks, so it's going to be really tough."

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When a reporter asked Shapovalov about breaking into the Top 10 after he defeated Grigor Dimitrov earlier Saturday, the Canadian politely avoided responding in detail out of respect for Schwartzman. The Argentine then earned his first ATP Head2Head triumph against Nadal on his 10th attempt. 

"For sure it's my best match ever," Schwartzman said.

The Argentine will next play another lefty in Shapovalov, who will certainly come out firing in their first meeting. The Canadian is 9-2 since the ATP Tour resumed in August, having reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the US Open. He will hope to maintain his consistency against Schwartzman, who only made 17 unforced errors against Nadal.

"You have a lot of ups and downs. It's fairly tough to stay consistent, I think. There are only certain players that have been able to do that throughout their career, so I'm happy to be playing this well," Shapovalov said. "I have just been going one match at a time. And of course, I have had some lows. But I feel like that's where working with a psychologist has helped me a lot to pick myself back up and improve my game after the drops."

While Schwartzman has only competed in one previous Masters 1000 semi-final, last year in Rome, Shapovalov is playing in the last four at this level for the fifth time. Last year, the lefty reached the final of the Rolex Paris Masters. He has done well to make a quick change from hard courts to clay after dashing from Flushing Meadows to the Foro Italico.

"I have had a lot of difficult matches. Dealing with jet lag and the body fatigue, it's not easy, so I'm really happy with the way I have been able to overcome that," Shapovalov said. "The way I felt tonight was really good, so I'm really happy and really pleased with myself."

The winner will play Djokovic, who battled hard to eliminate Norway's Casper Ruud 7-5, 6-3. The Serbian is a combined 9-0 against Shapovalov (5-0) and Schwartzman (4-0).

ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 2020

CENTRALE start 12:00 pm
WTA Match

Not Before 2:00 pm
[1] Novak Djokovic v Casper Ruud

Not Before 4:00 pm
WTA Match

Not Before 7:00 pm
[12] Denis Shapovalov v [8] Diego Schwartzman

PIETRANGELI start 4:00 pm
WTA Match

Not Before 5:30 pm
Jeremy Chardy/Fabrice Martin v [4] Marcel Granollers/Horacio Zeballos