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Tennis | US Open

Diego strikes blow for little big men

Diego Schwartzman struck a Grand Slam blow for the little guy on Friday at the US Open by downing Croatian giant Marin Cilic, a towering 6ft 6ins (1.98m).

The 25-year-old from Argentina swept to a 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-4 win in the third round of the tournament where fifth seed Cilic was champion just three years ago.

In a sport dominated by players over 6ft, Schwartzman insisted there is still room for the shorter man.

"I hope maybe they can understand tennis is for everyone. It's not just for the tall guys," said Schwartzman, the 29th seed who in 2016 lost in the first round of all four Grand Slams.

"Sometimes it's helping a lot if you are big, because you can serve fast, you can do everything fast on the baseline because you have more, the arms are bigger than me.

"But I was always like this and I always try to improve my tennis and try to don't think about."

Schwartzman is into the last 16 of a Slam for the first time, where he will face France's Lucas Pouille.

He is also in the half of the draw where Cilic was the only man left to have made a Grand Slam final.

Cilic took the slot in the draw originally allocated to Andy Murray before the 2012 champion and former world No 1 pulled out with a hip injury.

Murray joined Novak Djokovic, defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori in opting out of the tournament.

Now the top-seeded player in Schwartzman's half of the draw is John Isner, the world number 15 while Sam Querrey, the 17th seed, is the only man left in the section who has made even the semifinal of a major.

"Sometimes if you have luck in the draw and you can take the chances, it's always good for the new guys or for the guys who are out from the top 10," said Schwartzman.

"I think many players are doing well this week, and they are taking the opportunities because others are injured. We are trying to forward in the tournament."

Despite his woeful run at the Slams in 2016, Schwartzman has recovered this year with a run to the third round at Roland Garros where it took Djokovic to stop him in his tracks.

However, he has even shocked himself to get this far in New York, where he had only once previously got out of the first round.

"I am a little bit surprised, but the last weeks I was playing really well. I did third round in Paris and quarters in Montreal," he said.

"I think my confidence, it's going up. I think in every match I can win. I am playing well and try to be like this very match."


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