Diego Schwartzman has become one of the top 20 tennis players in the world, after the Argentine won the biggest title of his career this weekend, defeating Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 6-3 in the final of the clay court Rio de Janeiro Open.
It was sixth-seeded Schwartzman's first tournament win on the ATP world circuit since Istanbul's clay championship in 2016.
The 25-year-old, one of the shortest players on the tour at 1.75 metres (5ft 7ins) bettered his veteran rival Verdasco, 34, in the clay-court tournament’s final at the Jockey Club Brasileiro and jumped in the rankings from 23 to 18 – his first taste of the top 20.
Verdasco, seeded eighth, had been hoping to get his first title since Bucharest in 2016 but was let down by errors throughout the match.
The eighth-seeded Verdasco teamed with countryman David Marrero to win the doubles title Saturday night, They beat Nikola Mektic of Croatia and Alexander Peya of Austria, 5-7, 7-5, 10-8.
“I’m very happy to break into the top 20,” Schwartzman, 25, said in an interview on the Rio tournament’s website. “It’s a very difficult tournament, with top 10 (players), great players in the draw and when the week starts you don’t think you are going to play the finals.”
Last season, Schwartzman broke into the top 25 and bagged more than US$1.5 million in prize money.