Diego Schwartzman capped off a fantastic week by claiming the ATP Rio Open title 6-2, 6-3 against Fernando Verdasco who was making his 23rd career final. This was Schwartzman's second title following his triumph over Grigor Dimitrov in Istanbul in 2016.
Argentine wins opener after dropping serve early
Serving first, Schwartzman was immediately put under pressure, facing a breakpoint at 30-40. Using his forehand to push his opponent further behind the baseline, he ripped a winner down the line to break. However, he allowed the Argentine a way back into the match with two break back points on offer at 15-40.
A booming forehand error allowed Schwartzman to level before being forced to save three break points as he eventually got the first hold of the match at 2-1. The first relatively comfortable serve went the way of the Spaniard in the fourth game to level at 2-2. After such a confident start, Verdasco began to fade away, allowing the sixth seed to gain momentum.
Serving at 0-30 down in the sixth game, the eighth seeds ball toss began to look messy which resulted in a second double-fault and three breakpoints to Schwartzman, 0-40. Steely determination and unforced errors gave the 25-year-old his second break before backing it up with a solid hold of serve for 5-2.
Schwartzman brought up break/set point in the next game with a return serve winner catching the line much to the frustration of the veteran 34-year-old. Schwartzman struck first, grabbing the set 6-2 following another backhand error from the world number 27.
Schwartzman saves a number of breakpoints to seal the title
The first hold of serve to love went the way of the world number 18 to kick this second set off. Verdasco, who has been as high as number seven got taken to deuce but came through to level for 1-1. In a slightly longer game and following two deuces, Verdasco brought up a breakpoint, showing great depth and knocking on the door with excellent forehand shots during a rally.
But the Argentine quashed any comeback hopes with an overhead winner to send the game to a third deuce. This time, he came through to edge out in front in the second set at 2-1. Verdasco held serve with relative ease once more and for the umpteenth time, piled the pressure on his opponent. And, he cracked, serving up a rare double-fault with two breakpoints heading the Spaniard's way.
Verdasco couldn't take his chances with two unfortunate unforced errors with the game heading to deuce. The seven times ATP title winner missed two more crucial breakpoint chances as Schwartzman survived a big game to lead 3-2. The Spaniard continued plugging away but the Argentine wouldn't allow him back into the contest and went blow for blow and grabbed a breakpoint.
Though he missed his opportunity, he would get a second chance to break, possibly the most crucial moment of the match for both players. A seemingly tired forehand went long and the sixth seed broke for the first time in this set. He consolidated to take a 5-3 lead. Verdasco held but ultimately, it would be Schwartzman's week, taking match points to win the set 6-3 and the title.