Schwartzman pins hopes on Paris revival 

After a career-best performance at Roland-Garros last year, the Argentine looks to find his missing mojo in 2021

Diego Schwartzman, Roland Garros 2021, first round© Andre Ferreira/FFT
 - Chris Oddo

In tennis, success can prove fleeting and a star turn can often lead to a tumble, even for the best and brightest on the circuit.

This year at Roland-Garros Diego Schwartzman hopes to achieve the toughest job in tennis - backing up a breakout performance with another eye-catching achievement. In the what-have-you-done-for-me lately world of Grand Slam tennis, it’s a guaranteed way to stay relevant.

Schwartzman - who shattered his own lofty aspirations on clay last year when he conquered Rafael Nadal in Rome and parlayed that momentum into a first career Grand Slam semi-final at Roland-Garros - hopes he can write another chapter of his impressive resume on the terre battue. 

But to do that he’ll have to rekindle the magic that has been missing from his game on clay for the past month and a half. 

“For sure it was not my best clay-court season,” Schwartzman said on Tuesday after toppling Chinese Taipei's Yen-Hsun Lu in straight sets. “I was not playing my best. I was also losing against a few guys that are the best on the tour: Karatsev, Carreno-Busta, Auger-Aliassime. Obviously, I was not playing my best.” 

Diego Schwartzman, Roland Garros 2021, first round© Andre Ferreira/FFT

Schwartzman entered Tuesday on a four-match losing streak that began in Barcelona where he dropped a tight three-setter to Pablo Carreno Busta. After losing his first match at Madrid and Rome, the world No.10 headed to Lyon in a hurry to get more tennis under his belt. 

That mission also ended in defeat when the Argentine fell to a resurgent Richard Gasquet, 6-3, 7-5. Next, he went to the south of France for an exhibition, which Schwartzman says helped him gain traction on his favourite surface. 

“I was trying to play a few more matches,” Schwartzman said. “That's why I went to Lyon. Then I went to the UTS in Nice to play a few more different matches. I think it was helping me to be ready for Roland-Garros, playing some more points before the start of a Grand Slam.”

Like so many others, the world No.10’s road to success has been made more difficult by the global pandemic. It’s another wrinkle, not often considered by the fans or the media, that can throw players into a tailspin. For South American players, who rarely get the chance to play on home soil, the travel and the coronavirus restrictions can be brutal. 

“It's been difficult,” Schwartzman told “We are playing the tournaments around the world, so that's the very important thing right now. But the last 10 months I was home for less than a month and a half.

"So I think not even you guys, not even the people [can comprehend] how difficult it is for everyone. I think we have to understand everyone, because these are not really easy times around the world.” 

Diego Schwartzman, Roland Garros 2021, practice© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

Desperately in need of a win, the 28-year-old was happy to finally be shown some love from the draw gods in Paris. Lu, Schwartzman’s first-round opponent, entered Roland-Garros with an ATP ranking of 679 and a lifetime record of 2-9 in Paris.

Make that 2-10, much to Schwartzman’s delight. 

“I think I had a little bit of luck at this time in the draw,” he said of facing Lu on Court 7 on Tuesday. “It was a good start for me, and I took the chance and I'm in the second round.” 

Asked what he felt was missing from his game this spring on the clay, Schwartzman quickly pointed out a simple goal: he wants to hit his targets more consistently. The Buenos Aires native managed the task well on Tuesday against Lu, cracking 30 winners against just 10 unforced errors over the course of his 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 triumph. 

“I think it was a step forward today doing just 10 unforced errors in three sets,” he said. “For me it is very important not to make many mistakes, serving a little bit better than the matches before. I think when I'm trying to be aggressive and I'm not making many mistakes, that's the important thing that I have to keep in my mind from today.”