Rafael Nadal: ‘I broke Jannik Sinner five times, and still could have lost’

Facing each other for the second time since the last October, Rafael Nadal toppled the upcoming star Jannik Sinner 7-5, 6-4 in the Rome Open second round on Wednesday. Like in Paris last year, it was a tight encounter that could have gone down to the wire, lasting for two hours and ten minutes in the night session. Nadal had to chase the result twice in the opener, remaining calm and winning it 7-5. In the second, Jannik built a 4-2 advantage before the Spaniard rattled off four straight games to seal the deal in straight sets and avoid spending more time on the court. Comparing the conditions with the Madrid Open, Rafa declared that the court is very slow at night in Rome, breaking Sinner’s serve five times and barely prevailing in straight sets. The serve didn’t have such a strong impact as at Caja Magica, and they both had to work for almost every point. 

Rafael Nadal described slow conditions at the Rome Open during night session. 

“It was a positive match for me; I did many things well and produced a solid level. Jannik is a very tough opponent, and I’m happy with the outcome. I’m delighted with the victory. I think Jannik is a very complete player, and he is still improving all the time. You can’t recognize the improvement in one day. I mean, to see the players’ progress, you need to follow their tournaments regularly? You follow Jannik, and you would see that his level is getting higher and higher. He has a great backhand and forehand, and I had to step in and hold the position without stepping back.

I hit some very good crosscourt forehands to avoid his great backhand cross or down the line strokes. I think I did well. His level is not a surprise for me; I know how mighty his strokes are. I stepped on the court respecting Jannik a lot, and I was focused in every point. That helped me to earn the win. We played during the night sessions, and the conditions were slow. Rome is different from Madrid; you can’t make a significant impact with your serve here in Rome, especially at night. Jannik lost serve five times, but he still could have won the match in slow conditions,” Rafael Nadal said.

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