Jannik Sinner needed only a couple of seasons to become the youngster to watch, leading his 2001 generation and taking significant steps towards the top. With a strong team around him, the Italian had a chance to gather experience on the Tour, competing on the most prominent events and training with Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.
Following the third round at home Masters 1000 event in Rome, Jannik traveled to Paris and made Roland Garros debut at 19 years and one month. Eager to show his best tennis, Sinner lost only one set en route to the quarter-final, becoming the first player of his generation to achieve that.
The Italian added his name to the record books as the first player with the quarter-final on Roland Garros debut since Rafael Nadal in 2005, doing that as the youngest quarter-finalist in Paris since Novak Djokovic in 2006!
Sinner kicked off his campaign with an impressive victory over David Goffin, using a favorable draw and ousting Benjamin Bonzi and Federico Coria to find himself in the last 16. The youngster topped the two-time quarter-finalist Alexander Zverev in four sets, securing the third top-10 triumph and setting the clash against the 12-time winner Rafael Nadal.
Despite giving his best, Jannik had to finish his Parisian journey on Tuesday night, with Nadal scoring a 7-6, 6-4, 6-1 triumph in two hours and 48 minutes, advancing to his 13th semi-final in Paris. Nadal and Sinner had to wait for hours to step on Court Philippe-Chatrier following the marathon between Dominic Thiem and Diego Schwartzman that lasted for over five hours, battling hard and finishing the encounter just before 1:30 am!
Rafa raced over the previous four rivals in Paris and Jannik made him fight much stronger, staying in touch in the opening two sets before fading from the court in the third. Nadal scored two breaks from eight chances and gave serve away twice for the first time this year in Paris, landing 37 winners and 33 unforced errors to set Diego Schwartzman semi-final match on Friday.
Jannik Sinner became the youngest Roland Garros quarter-finalist since Novak Djokovic.
They both made a solid start in their games, with Nadal fending off a break point at 2-2 following a loose backhand from the youngster.
There were no break chances in the next five games, as Sinner became the first player who took five games from Nadal in a single set at this year's Roland Garros. Not stopping there, a teenager grabbed a break at 5-5 after Nadal's loose forehand, serving for the set in the next one.
With no room for errors, Rafa placed a couple of forehand down the line winners to bring the break back and level the score at 6-6 in the last moment ahead of the tie break. He was the favorite now, sealing it at 6-4 when Sinner sprayed a forehand error for a massive boost.
The youngster placed a forehand winner at 2-1 in set number two to forge the advantage, ready to give his everything against the mighty opponent. The more experienced player broke back immediately after a forehand error from Jannik, leveling the score at 3-3 and gaining momentum again.
Sinner had a 40-15 lead in game nine before Nadal took four straight points to secure a crucial break, closing the set at 5-4 and moving closer to the finish line after two hours and 11 minutes. Rafa broke in the first game of the third set with a backhand crosscourt winner, held after deuce and broke again in game three when Jannik sprayed a backhand mistake, forging the advantage and moving over the top with another break at 5-1 that propelled him into the semi-final.
Jannik Sinner will compete on an indoor hard court in St. Petersburg next week, receiving a wild card for the ATP 250 event.