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By Chris Oddo | Sunday February 25, 2018

Diego Schwartzman claimed his biggest title to date—and a spot in the ATP’s Top 20 for the first time—with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Fernando Verdasco at the Rio Open on Sunday.

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The No.6-seeded Argentine improved to 2-0 over the hard-hitting Spaniard and claimed his second career title.

“It means a lot,” said Schwartzman. “It’s an amazing week for me. Everything was perfect—every match, every set was perfect for me, playing my best tennis.”

Verdasco appeared to buckle under the strain of playing both singles and doubles finals in Rio, and it was Schwartzman who held steady and make the most of his opportunities over the course of the 83-minute tussle.

There were chances for Verdasco, but the 25-year-old was fantastic on serve, saving eight of nine break chances, including all five he faced in the second set.

“I knew he finish yesterday in the final of the doubles really late,” said Schwartzman. “For me it was important today to put many balls in the court. … I think he was a little bit tired in the final of the second set, for me it was important because I was fresh.”

Schwartzman goes to Acapulco next, and he’ll face familiar foe Verdasco in the first round.

“The tennis is crazy sometimes,” said Schwartzman. “I am going to enjoy now this title, and tomorrow again. Not [until] before the match will I start to think about the next match against Fernando in Acapulco.”

34-year-old Verdasco drops to 7-5 on the season, but he does come away with the doubles title, which he achieved with longtime friend David Marrero in dramatic fashion on Saturday evening.

The Spaniard also can take confidence from impressive wins over No.2-seeded Dominic Thiem and No.5-seeded Fabio Fognini as he continues with his season.

Schwartzman improves to 10-4 and will reach a career-high ranking on Monday.


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