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Schwartzman Stuns Fritz in Close Clash

Schwartzman Stuns Fritz in Close Clash
October 9, 2023

It's been a matter of persistence for Diego Schwartzman throughout a challenging 2023 season, who arrived at the Rolex Shanghai Masters as the winner of just nine matches in the 29 he'd contested this year. 

So when the world No.130 Argentine found himself in a third-set battle with No.7 seed Taylor Fritz in the third round of the ATP Masters 1000 tournament, the Argentine was prepared to fight. 

Schwartzman did so for two hours and 39 minutes at Qi Zhong Stadium to emerge with a 6-4 3-6 7-6(5) victory over Fritz. It was Schwartzman's biggest win for the season and marks the first time he claimed back-to-back wins in an ATP main draw since Roland Garros in May. 

"It's important. I had these kinds of matches many, many times, in big tournaments, as well, but since last year I was not playing my best," Schwartzman, a wildcard recipient at this event, said. 

"The last few tournaments I did great against the best guys on tour, Tommy Paul, (Jannik) Sinner, (Alexander) Zverev, you know. I was losing against these guys very close in the third set, so I knew that I was playing much better, but still no win. 

"This time tonight it was very important because it's the biggest step at the end of the year."

The crafty Schwartzman secured his victory with fearless tennis at key moments, which was never better demonstrated as he won an extraordinary rally in the third-set tiebreak to bring up match point. 

With motivation at times hard to summon over recent months, Schwartzman was buoyed by the reminder of his top-level ability. 

"I'm very happy how I did," he said. "I will try as many weeks and many tournaments as I can to have this level. If I have this level, even if I lose, for me it's fine."

It was a better day for Fritz's American countryman Tommy Paul, who withstood a battle from French teenager Arthur Fils before a 6-4 6-7(7) 6-4 win. He held two match points in the second set before world No.44 Fils forced a deciding set. 

"Those wins sometimes feel the best," Paul, who is within reach of securing a top-10 ranking, said. "Honestly, obviously, I would have liked to get it done in two (sets) and had a couple of match points there, but he actually played pretty good points so I can't be too upset."

At age 26, Paul was able to draw on his greater experience when his 19-year-old opponent claimed an early service break in the third set. The American immediately recovered, claiming another break in the 10th game to secure the match. 

"I had one game plan and I probably had to switch it," Paul noted of Fils, who has signalled a bright future with wins over Pavel Kotov and No.24 seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in Shanghai this week.

 "I mean, I got a break first game playing with my original game plan, but then he adjusted really quick and I'm really like, I think he's going to keep getting a lot better and better."

Paul next meets Andrey Rublev, who surrendered only three games as he defeated Adrian Mannarino in lightning-fast fashion.  
The fifth-seed Russian fired 35 winners against only five errors as he completed his 6-3 6-0 win in just over an hour. 

Grigor Dimitrov had earlier edged ahead of Karen Khachanov in a tight third-round contest.  

With neither player able to convert break point opportunities in the first set - Dimitrov holding four in total and Khachanov two - it progressed to a tiebreak, which was briefly suspended due to rain after two points. 

There was still little to separate the players when they resumed beneath a closed roof but with a set point saved with a Khachanov error, Dimitrov was at last able to gain an opening and secure the set. 

After gaining the first and only service break of the match for a 3-2 lead in the second set, Dimitrov maintained his advantage, securing his 7-6(6) 6-4 win in just under two hours. 

Marking a third win over Khachanov in the three matches they've contested, Dimitrov was pleased to produce his most aggressive and accurate tennis at the most important moments.

"I had to stay focused, that was most important. Every time I had an opportunity to be more aggressive, I had to do it," the 32-year-old said having finished with 31 winners and winning 17 of 20 first-serve points as he lifted his level in the second set.
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