It is day three at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and we have some of the bigger seeds coming out including tenth seed Diego Schwartzman as he faces Guido Pella in an all-Argentinian match that comes third on Court 2. The favourite to progress to the second round is Schwartzman but only by a relatively slim margin so we should see a good match.
It has been a good year for Diego Schwartzman, especially in the clay events he has played, but he did have a bit of a dip throughout the Sunshine Double. He played two events in the South American clay swing as he made the quarterfinals in Buenos Aires before falling to Aljaz Bedene and then he went on his best run of the year to the second title of his career at the Rio Open with a week that saw him get wins over Nicolas Jarry, Gael Monfils and Fernando Verdasco. His last minute preparation for the Sunshine Double was in Acapulco but he failed to make it very far as Ryan Harrison defeated him in the second round. It ended up being an underwhelming double as he fell in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open to Marcos Baghdatis and then was met with a tough draw at the Miami Open that saw him fall in the third round to Milos Raonic. He got some good wins in Davis Cup last week as he moved past Christian Garin and Nicolas Jarry to help Argentina to get the win over Chile. This has not been the best year for Guido Pella thus far as he has only got back-to-back wins at two of his nine events. To end the South American clay season, he played two events in Brazil but struggled in both as he fell in the first round of Rio to Gastao Elias and then in the second round of San Paolo to Nicolas Jarry. He failed to win a match throughout the Sunshine Double as he fell to Fernando Verdasco in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open and then to Mikhail Youzhny in the first round of the Miami Open. He was also part of the Davis Cup team that defeated Chile and he contributed to that win by getting past Christian Garin. His most recent event was last week when he had a good run to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships before going out to Tennys Sandgren. The edge in terms of confidence has to go to Schwartzman because he has got better wins and the Rio title will still be making him feel in good form.
Diego Schwartzman has not played at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters often but he has got a good result here once out of the two times he has played. He made his event debut in 2015 and he went through qualifying but failed to win a match as Jeremy Chardy knocked him out in the first round. He returned last year and had much better success as he made it to the quarterfinals before going down to the unstoppable eventual champion Rafael Nadal. There is even less experience at the event for Guido Pella as the one time he has played Monte-Carlo was in 2016 when he fell to Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the first round. The edge in terms of how comfortable they feel at this location has to go to Schwartzman because of that successful run he had here last year.
Head to Head Record
The two Argentineans Diego Schwartzman and Guido Pella have only faced each other once in an official ATP main draw match, and that meeting came on the clay. That was at the 2016 French Open when Pella got the 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Schwartzman in the first round. I would have thought that the match would have gone the way of Schwartzman because of his clay prowess but he had not really had his breakout by that point and Pella is the more experienced opponent. The edge in terms of match-up has to go with the older Pella but he will need to relaise that Schwartzman has improved a lot and be prepared for that.
I think that Diego Schwartzman is a very emotional player and his deficit in the head to head record will be on his mind when he steps onto the court. Guido Pella will be very different because he will be a relaxed player a junior countryman and he will know that he has the tools to beat Schwartzman on clay. I think the major difference in attitude will be very telling early with Pella being aggressive and going after his shots while Schwartzman might hold back that little bit and I think that will make all the difference as Pella does not really let anything stop him on the way to taking the 6-1 opening set. I think that the heavy loss of that set might even free Schwartzman up and allow him to play his looser game and I think that he will take a commanding lead in the second. I think that Schwartzman might get a bit nervous closing it out and allow Pella to peg a little closer but in the end, Schwartzman will hold his nerve and take the 6-4 second set. I think after a little lapse at the end of the second set, Schwartzman will have got all the emotions out of him and he will be able to play a focused decider as Pella starts to make more errors to lead Schwartzman to the 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 win.