Rafael Nadal: ‘The chances for him are much higher than for us’

Competing in just his third Masters 1000 tournament, 19-year-old Jannik Sinner advanced to the title clash in Miami in March! The youngster dropped experienced Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 28 minutes after overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the decisive set to stay on track for the title. At 19 years and seven months, Jannik became the youngest Masters 1000 finalist since Rafael Nadal in Madrid 2005 and the first teenager to fight for the title at this level since Novak Djokovic in Miami 14 years ago. The Italian had 37 winners and 53 unforced errors, producing an exciting mix of incredible shots and basic errors to keep the points on his racket. Bautista Agut hit just over ten winners and nearly 40 errors, losing ground after that initial lead in the deciding set and taking seven points less than his young rival. Sinner saved seven of 10 break opportunities and used four return games of eight opportunities to go over the top. The Italian had a slight advantage in the shorter and longer exchanges, and there was nothing separating them in mid-range rallies between five and eight strokes. Jannik got off to a shaky start and added a big forehand error to lose serve in the first game of the match. Bautista Agut fended off two break points in the next to confirm the lead and held zero in the fourth game for 3-1. In the sixth game, the youngster broke to zero to level the score at 3-3 and deepened his serve to save three break opportunities and move to the front for the first time.

Rafa Nadal will compete in Abu Dhabi

Speaking at a press conference in Abu Dhabi, Rafael Nadal explained he does not expect to play without pain on his return, but hopes it will be manageable enough for him to perform well. “I am super happy to be back,” Nadal said. “It’s not about pain. I had pain a lot of times during my career, almost all the time, it’s more about having the chance to have a pain that I can manage to compete well. Let’s see. I need to try it in competition. Of course, I am feeling better, if not I will not be here.” The 20-time champion stated, “I am outside of the competition for the last five, six months. I understand that the conversation is always there, especially with Novak that who has been playing every week almost. Roger and I have been injured for such a long period of time. Of course, we are equal but the chances for Novak are much higher than for us.”

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