When it comes to tennis, the great American hope is the towering John Isner. The great Jewish hope is the diminutive Diego Schwartzman, who is 5 feet, 6 inches and one of the shortest players on the circuit. The Argentinian player advanced to the third round Thursday, working a little harder than he would have liked. Up 6-2, 6-0 against Jaume Munar of Spain, he couldn’t convert a couple of match points and lost 7-5 before taking the final set easily 6-2.
Ranked No. 13 in the world, Schwartzman, 26, used his powerful forehand and speed to finish off Munar in the last set. On one of the last points, Schwartzman hit the ball so hard that when Munar swung, the ball went high up behind him and over the stands. Schwartzman smiled and pumped his fist after the victory longer than most players do to give autographs and take selfies with his fans.
After making the quarterfinals of the US Open last year, can he continue the magic again?
Schwartzman’s coach, Juan Ignacio Chela, said he is proud of his player but made no predictions.
“He’s playing really well and the next match is gonna be really tough,” he said, knowing it would be Kei Nishikori or Gael Monfils when he spoke before that match took place. “He was very good in the first two sets and had a chance to close the match and Munar started to play better. I think he was very solid and aggressive in the fourth set.”
On Saturday, he will face Japan’s Nishikori, a finalist at the US Open in 2014, a semi-finalist in 2016 and a player who made the fourth round of the French Open this year. Ranked 21st, he is only four inches taller than Schwartzman but has more experience going deep in grand slams.
Alan Zeitlin is a journalist living in Manhattan.