Jewish tennis player Diego Schwartzman survived a marathon match against Dominic Thiem to win a quarterfinals classic 7-6(1), 5-7, 6-7(6), 7-6(5), 6-2 at the French Open late Tuesday.
The 12th-seeded Schwartzman, a 28-year-old from Argentina, prevailed in five hours and eight minutes to advance to his first Grand Slam semifinal.
Thiem, the third seed, was a finalist in 2018 and 2019, losing to Rafael Nadal both years. The Austrian won the US Open last month in New York.
Schwartzman’s semifinal opponent will be Nadal, as the second-seeded Spaniard pulled away from Italy’s Jannik Sinner for a 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-1 win Tuesday.
Schwartzman earned his first five-set victory at Roland Garros.
“Dominic is one of the best players right now in the world. Win the last Grand Slam, two times final here,” Schwartzman said after the match. “We are friends. I have a lot of respect for him. And that’s why this match is so very, very important for me.
“I think at the end, this night I deserved to win.”
Schwartzman fought back from a 4-2 deficit to win the first set, only to narrowly drop the next two.
And Thiem came out swinging in the fourth set, grabbing a quick win on serve and then breaking Schwartzman’s serve to take a 2-0 lead. But Schwartzman managed to break Thiem’s serve the next two times around, turning a two-game deficit into a 4-2 lead.
“In the third set, I was out of my mind... I was crazy, screaming,” Schwartzman said. “I was just so nervous because I saw the chance today and I didn’t take it in the second and the third.”
But he did in the fourth against the 27-year-old Thiem, who survived another five-set marathon on Sunday against Frenchman Hugo Gaston to advance to the quarterfinals.
Schwartzman and Thiem played an unbelievable 376 points in all, with Schwartzman winning 197 of them. Each won 62 percent of the points on his first serve.
Thiem hit 65 winners but made 81 unforced errors, compared to 47 and 62, respectively, for Schwartzman.
Thiem said after the match, which he called “enjoyable,” that he was delighted that Schwartzman will have a chance to play in his first Grand Slam semifinal.
“We both gave everything,” the world No. 3 said. “The thing in tennis is there is one winner and one loser. Despite I’m so disappointed, I’m still happy for him.”
With the win, the world No. 14 Schwartzman will move into the top 10 of the rankings for the first time in his career. He lost in the finals of the recent Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome to Novak Djokovic, having beaten Nadal in the quarterfinals.
Nadal, meanwhile, marches on in a bid for his 13th title on the clay courts in Paris. He broke serve at the end of the first set to force a tiebreaker, which he won, but Sinner bounced back to grab a 3-1 lead in the second set. The rest of the match belonged to Nadal, who won 11 of the final 13 games.
Nadal expects a tough challenge from Schwartzman.
“He’s coming with big confidence, no? Two weeks in a row,” Nadal said. “He’s in the final in Rome, he’s in the semifinals here. He beat me there. It’s a plus of confidence for him. I know that.
“I’m going to try to go on court, play my best, try to play my game, play aggressive, try to do something a little bit different than what I did in Rome, of course. Hope to be ready to play my best. That’s what I need. That’s what I am looking for. I’m going to give my best until the end.”