Diego Schwartzman and Nicolas Jarry face off for a place in the Rio Open final in Brazil. For both men it is a big opportunity to contest for a title at ATP 500 level, something neither man has yet achieved. For Schwartzman, seeded 6th and looking to further improve on his current career high ranking of world #23, there will be few opportunities this season as inviting. As for Jarry, he may be inexperienced, but the ATP Tour has already thrown up plenty of surprise results this season. But who will come out on top?
The pair are yet to meet on Tour with the 22-year-old Jarry having spent most of his still fairly brief career playing on the Challenger Tour. But whilst they have never matched up on Tour, one can compare their respective levels of experience. In that contest, Schwartzman comes out on top by some margin. The Argentinian is a Grand Slam quarterfinalist (US Open 2017) and made the fourth round in Melbourne earlier this year (lost to Rafael Nadal). He is also an ATP titlist, having won his first and so far only title in Istanbul in 2016.
Schwartzman has made two finals since then, recording back-to-back runners up finishes at the European Open in Antwerp. Jarry, in contrast, is making his bow in a Tour-level semifinal, although he did recently win the doubles tournament in Quito partnered with his countryman Hans Podlipnik-Castillo. Jarry will be hoping that his good form coming into Rio will see him through against Schwartzman's greater experience.
Path to the semifinals
Schwartzman began his Rio Open campaign against Norway's Casper Ruud who last year had such sterling success in Rio, reaching the semifinals. Unfortunately for the teenager, he was unable to replicate his heroics as he was forced to retire trailing 1-4. Schwartzman then accounted for his compatriot Federico Delbonis comfortably, defeating him 6-2 6-3. That set up a clash with the mercurial Frenchman Gael Monfils. Monfils, a former top ten player, can be unplayable on his day, but he struggled to cope with Schwartzman's consistent and effective play from the baseline and the sixth seed came through 6-3 6-4.
Jarry opened in Rio against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain. Garcia-Lopez, a clay court veteran, is no easy opponent, but the young Chilean impressed in a straight sets victory as he won through to the second round 6-3 7-6. That set up a match with Albert Ramos Vinolas, another Spaniard, and one of the foremost clay courters on Tour. Jarry, however, was not overawed and again triumphed in straight sets, winning 7-5 6-3. He again won in straight sets against Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas, defeating his second seed of the tournament 7-5 6-3 to reach his first Tour-level semi.
How do they match up?
Both men are at their best on clay courts. Schwartzman's strengths are already well-known to most. The diminutive Argentine is one of the best ball strikers on Tour, making up for his lack of power with impressive accuracy and timing. He is also a terrific mover, particularly on a clay court. His serve, however, is not the most potent, and his second is vulnerable to being attacked, which is something Jarry would do well to look to take advantage of.
The Chilean, who stands nearly a foot taller than his opponent at 6'6, is a superior server and possesses more raw power. He is also a good mover for such a big man, but he can be pulled off balance and rushed like all players of his size. He, like most South Americans, is solid off both the backhand and forehand side, though it is the latter that is the real weapon. Indeed, both men will likely look to dictate with their forehands as much as possible, and whoever is able to deploy that shot more often may well walk away with the win.
Nicolas Jarry has played some excellent tennis so far this week. His victories against Albert Ramos Vinolas and Pablo Cuevas were hugely impressive, all the more so for coming back-to-back. But, it feels that the combination of Schwartzman's baseline consistency and the occasion will prove too much for the Chilean. This has been a good week for him, but it will be an even better one for the Argentininian. Schwartzman in straight sets.
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