Schwartzman drops in category to return to being first: he will play the first challenger in seven years

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diego schwartzmann He’s going through a difficult time, from a tennis point of view. He small He can’t find a way around his game and has won just two of nine games he’s played so far this season. He also failed to perform well on brick dust’s South American tour, in which he always performed well: he lost in openers in Córdoba, Buenos Aires, Rio and Santiago de Chile. he left with better feelings and in the Masters of Indian Wells 1000defeated in the opening round Frederick Coria and scored his first win since Australian Open. He was unable to advance further into the California desert because he ran into Casper Ruud, number four in the world, which comfortably surpassed him; but wanting to continue working and not lose the progress of the last few weeks, he has decided to face a different challenge than this Monday.

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The porteño, 38th in the standings, will play a tournament of Tour of the challenger for the first time in almost seven years, by accepting a special invitation from the Arizona tennis classica competition in that category, held in Phoenix on concrete and offering $220,000 in prizes.

Thus he will be able to continue competing in a “lost” week, which otherwise he would have had to dedicate only to training, and will have the possibility of preparing his participation in the competition against valid opponents. Miami Masters 1000which will begin on Wednesday 22. It is that the contest will have Italian in the box Matthew Berrettini (23rd in the world and another who received a joker card after losing quickly at Indian Wells), the French Gaël Monfils (also invited) e Richard Gasquet (43rd), Czech Jiri Lehecka (47th) and Kazakh Alexander Bublick (46th), among others.

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To find Schwartzman’s last participation in a challenger, we have to go back to the end of 2016. From 14 to 20 November of that year, La Peque competed in a race of that category in Montevideo, on brick dust. He finished 58th in the ATP rankings and won the title – the eighth of his career – beating the Brazilian 6-4, 6-1 Rogerio Dutra Silva, then 103rd, in the final. It was the end of a season in which he had won his first title (at the beginning of May, in Istanbul) and played another final, in October, in antwerp.

The following year, the porteño began the ascent that led him to win three more titles (Rio de Janeiro 2018, Los Cabos 2019 and Buenos Aires 2021); submit Rafael Nadal, the undisputed King of brick dust, on his favorite surface, in Rome 2020; be a semifinalist in Roland Garros that same year; and to reach the eighth step of the world rankings. And also remain in the top 40 of the ranking uninterruptedly since June 2017.

But small entered a well. Since his loss in the third round of the US Open at Frances Tiafoein September, he amassed a record of just two wins and 13 losses (counting the one suffered in the last edition of the Laver cup, an exhibition tournament but which the ATP adds for its statistics). After passing through New York, he ended 2022 – in which he confessed to having suffered from anxiety attacks – with six consecutive crashes. And at the beginning of this 2023 he has a score of 2-7.

Hours before its debut in Open Argentina -said the Spaniard Bernabé Zapata-, said the porteño clarion: “I’m training very well, but maybe the difference is that I don’t have the confidence I had in the key moments of the matches, when I was 4-4 or at the tie break. In the moments when I stole points and won in awkward situations. That’s it where a lot of confidence in my game came from. That’s where I have to come back strong. We are always looking for solutions.”

“Today we are evaluating very short-term goals. Going into every game, making fewer mistakes, being more solid and feeling good again. Going back to good sensations,” he added.

After his celebration against Coria on his debut in the Californian desert on Wednesday, he commented: “I’m happy because my last six months haven’t been easy. I dropped out of the Top 20 after five years. It’s been a tough time. But I’m working hard It’s the only way I know how to do it. It’s the only way I know. And having these kinds of matches is very positive for me right now.”

At 30, he small wants to “be again”. And after a bittersweet period at Indian Wells – in which he barely made it to the second round, but managed to win a game and played at a good level again – he wasn’t afraid to accept a different challenge and go down to the Challenger Tour, to keep adding minutes on the pitch, pace and, above all, confidence.

Source: Clarin

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