The last match on schedule at the Coupe Rogers, this Tuesday, will be a friendly battle between world number seven Dominic Thiem, and 36-ranked Diego Schwartzman.
As the Austrian did not know who he would début against when he met with the press on Monday, BATennis World asked him his impressions about his potential rival:
“I think they are pretty different, those two. I know Diego, of course. I practice with him often. A good friend of mine.
“Opelka, just saw sometimes in the television. Probably a new Isner and Karlovic coming up. It would be more fun to play Diego, of course. I hope also that he wins. Also that he’s a good friend of mine.
“But, well, I’m looking forward. It’s going to be tomorrow night, I think, hopefully in a good atmosphere.
“[Playing a friend] is, of course, a little bit more difficult than normal matches. But still you have to cut it out for these two hours or something. As there is no physically contact like in other sports, it’s easy to handle.”
– Dominic Thiem
Winning Coupe Rogers start for Schwartzman
His wish came true, as Diego Schwartzman (shortest player of the draw at 5’7″) bid his patience and edged Reilly Opelka (tallest player of the draw at 6’11”) 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-4 in 2h09 to reach the second round.
When BATennis World told him that he was to face Thiem on Centre Court, in a night match, his face split with his boyish, happy grin. “Yes”, he said. “I’ll get back there to play my friend. We practised on centre the other day, and now we’re doing it again. I played him many times, and it will be a pleasure to play again with him on Centre Court.”
As we told him that Thiem had been wishing for his win, his grin became a full, joyous smile:
“Yes, we’re very close friends off the courts. We share a lot of things, and it’s always good playing against friends. We’re hoping that it’ll be a great match, tomorrow, and may the best man win.”
– Diego Schwartzman
Some people shudder at the idea of facing a friend. For Thiem and Schwartzman, it is only extra motivation and one more reason to enjoy the game.
(Header photo: BATennis World)