Schwartzman and Alcaraz reach Rio SF with three-set wins | ATP tour

In the opposing halves of the Rio de Janeiro draw, Diego Schwartzman and Fabio Fognini took opposite paths to win the quarter-finals. Later on Saturday, after a brief rain delay, Carlos Alcaraz set up a semi-final showdown against Fognini with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 win over fellow Italian in Matteo Berrettini.

The third-seeded Schwartzman needed more than three and a half hours to edge Pablo Andujar, 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4, while Fognini edged Federico Coria in half that time with a nice 6-4, 6-2 result at the Rio Open presented by Claro.

In a match that saw at least four breaks of serve in each set, Schwartzman broke 12 times to hold off Spain’s Andujar. An up-and-down game came to a turbulent climax after the Argentine was broken in the longest game of the contest, a five-tie frame which saw Andujar equalize at 4-4 in the third.

The world No. 14 immediately restored his break advantage but then had to slip away 15/40 as he served for a place in the semis. A potential passing shot from Andujar cut the boards on his first break chance, and another backhand did the same on his second.

The drama ended on Schwartzman’s third match point, as a lob from Andujar sailed long.

The Argentine is one win away from back-to-back ATP Tour finals, having reached the title match in Buenos Aires last weekend. He will face compatriot Francisco Cerundolo in the semi-finals, after the 23-year-old beat Miomir Kecmanovic, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4.

Cerundolo entered Rio with a career-high ATP ranking of No. 100, and will likely improve on that with his run to the last four.

Fognini dominated Coria in Rio’s only straight-sets quarter-final match. The Italian took a 4-0 lead in the first set and broke again in the opener of the second on his way to a routine win.

The 34-year-old will next face seventh seed Alcaraz, after the Spaniard avenged a fifth-set tie-break loss to Berrettini a month ago in the third round of the Australian Open.

“I knew it was going to be really, really tough,” Alcaraz said after the game. “I knew I had to play at a good level. I’m so happy with the performance and so happy to be able to play the semi-finals here in Rio.”

After Alcaraz dominated the first set, Berrettini won five straight games to close out the second before rain halted play for a third consecutive day in Rio.

When play resumed between the big hitters, the Spaniard’s forehand was the most important as Alcaraz dictated the final set. He scored the decisive break in game six, triggered by a brilliant attempt to set up a punt volley on the first point.

Alcaraz ran with a 40/0 and 0/40 lead in the next two games, never letting their world No. 6 opponent back into the game. He goes 2-1 in his ATP Head2Head series against Berrettini, with all three games long.

The four quarter-final winners will be back on the field Saturday night for the semi-finals, weather permitting.

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