Schwartzman Overcomes The Odds To Crack The Top 10 After Paris Run
One of Diego Schwartzman’s biggest dreams was to crack the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings. Following his run to the Roland Garros semi-finals, that becomes a reality today as the Argentine moves up six spots to a career-high World No. 8.
“I had good Grand Slam tournaments in the past. But when the year started, I wondered what the difference was to get into the Top 10 and it was to beat the Top 5 [players] here and there. [In the past] I couldn't,” Schwartzman said. “In Rome and here in Paris I did and that's why I'm going to be [in the] Top 10 for the first time.
“Now I want to keep improving and stay there."
The 28-year-old joins 22-year-old Russian Andrey Rublev as Top 10 debutants this week. The Argentine showed great form on clay in recent weeks, making his first ATP Masters 1000 final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia — defeating Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals — and reaching his maiden Grand Slam semi-final in Paris with a victory in the last eight against two-time finalist Dominic Thiem.
The last Argentine to crack the Top 10 for the first time was Juan Monaco on 23 July 2012. He spent eight weeks in the Top 10 (career-high No. 10) across two stints in 2012.
Juan Monaco (@picomonaco) October 9, 2020
Schwartzman, 5’7”, is the shortest player in the Top 10 since 5'6" Harold Solomon, whose last week in the Top 10 began on 27 July 1981.
“I honestly think if someone would have told me three or four years ago that there was going to be a guy of his size that was going to be in the Top 10 of the world, I would have told you you were crazy. I just didn’t think it was going to end up happening,” Solomon said. “Just didn’t think that in this day and age that there was going to be somebody that size that would be able to withstand the barrage of the serves — even though he returns great — and be able to hang with guys on the court. I thought eventually they’d get worn down or overpowered, but he’s proven me wrong.
“I just see how great of a position he gets in on the court all the time. The footwork is the key. Just being able to get in such great positions for balls all the time so that even though he’s playing against guys who are bigger and stronger — I wouldn’t say anybody’s faster — he’s able to get himself in a position to use the strength that he has.”
Schwartzman has earned the respect of his peers, including Thiem. The Austrian was disappointed to lose his chance at claiming a second Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, but he was happy to see close friend Schwartzman succeed.
“I'm happy for him. He really deserves it. It's an amazing achievement by him to break into the Top 10 for the first time in the career,” Thiem said. “Maybe to lose against a friend hurts a little bit less.”
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic also is impressed by Schwartzman, especially with the Argentine’s work ethic and relentless determination on court.
“He deserves to be [in the] Top 10 and deserves to win that kind of match more than many players because he works hard, he's a super nice person, very friendly guy. Everybody loves Diego,” Djokovic said after Schwartzman upset Thiem. “I'm very happy for him. I'm proud of him. I wish him all the best. Definitely he deserves to be where he is."
Schwartzman was not a highly touted junior. He lost in the first round of qualifying in the only junior Grand Slam he played (2010 US Open). But ever since, the Argentine has steadily climbed, cracking the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings on 9 June 2014 and the Top 30 on 11 September 2017.
Last year, six players broke into the Top 10 for the first time, the most since 2006. With today’s addition of Schwartzman and Andrey Rublev to the elite group, there have been three so far this year. Denis Shapovalov accomplished the feat following his run to the Internazionali BNL d’Italia semi-finals.