RIO DE JANEIRO, February 25, 2018
A first-time Rio Open Presented by Claro champion is guaranteed to be crowned on Sunday, when Diego Schwartzman and Fernando Verdasco will face each other in the final of the ATP 500 clay court event.
In an all-South American semi-final clash, Schwartzman defeated Nicolas Jarry from Chile 7-5, 6-2. The No. 6 seed of Argentina capitalized on four of his eight break point chances to advance in one hour and 17 minutes.
“I feel really happy today,” said Schwartzman. “I was nervous at the end of the first set. It’s not easy to close it out when the opponent is aggressive. You need to be focused on every point. In the second set, I took every chance and got better. It’s not easy and I need to run a lot, but I like these kinds of matches on clay courts.”
Schwartzman will take on Fernando Verdasco, who edged out No. 5 seed Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-1, 7-5. The 34-year-old Spaniard won 58 per cent of the total points played to prevail after one hour and 15 minutes.
“I’m so happy to reach the final here in Rio, in my first time playing here,” said Verdasco, who is seeking his first ATP 500 crown since 2010, when he lifted the trophy on home soil in Barcelona . “All these years waiting to come to this city has helped me to find the extra energy and motivation to be in both singles and doubles finals. At the end, you just try to play the best to win. Just keep trying and fighting.”
Schwartzman and Verdasco will face off for the second time in their head-to-head series, with the Argentine previously capturing a 7-6, 6-1 decision in Nice in 2016.
Later in the day, Fernando Verdasco was back in action taking the doubles title alongside fellow Spaniard David Marrero. The tandem outlasted Nikola Mektic of Croatia and Alexander Peya from Austria 5-7, 7-5, 10-8. The final lasted one hour and 50 minutes.