Rafael Nadal made a winning campaign at the Rome Masters 1000 event in May, but he was far from a happy camper during the press conference! Nadal suffered the quarter-final loss in Madrid a week earlier and was eager to improve his game and chase the tenth Foro Italico title.
Facing probably the most formidable second-round opponent, Rafa defeated the young home star Jannik Sinner 7-5, 6-4 in the last match of Wednesday's program, finishing the encounter after 21:15 and heading towards a short press conference.
After seeing tomorrow's schedule, Rafa could not spend much time with journalists, saying he needs to rest after being listed to play around 13:00 on Thursday. Rafa and Denis Shapovalov were to hit the Center Court at Foro Italico following Novak Djokovic's and Ashleigh Barty's matches.
The Spaniard was not happy when he saw the schedule, stating it would have been acceptable to play at around 13:00 in some other circumstances, but not this one, especially had Jannik and him gone into a decider.
Rafael Nadal had issues with his schedule in Rome this year.
If we leave the schedule aside, Rafa played a good match against Sinner, suffering three breaks and earning five return games to seal the deal in just over two hours.
Nadal barely had winners against Zverev in Madrid and was much more efficient versus the Italian in Rome, controlling the pace and toppling the opponent in the shortest and more advanced rallies. They traded four breaks in the opening six games, and Rafa produced three excellent holds after that to keep the pressure on Jannik.
The Spaniard seized the seventh set point in the 12th game to wrap up the opener in 70 minutes. Sinner built a 4-2 advantage in the second set, playing well and looking good to force a decider before Nadal shifted into a higher gear and rattled off four straight games to move over the top and avoid spending more time on the court.
"Unfortunately, the press conference can not last for long, as I have to play early tomorrow. The action starts at 10:00 am, and my match is scheduled third, so I can start at around 13:00. That would not be a problem in normal circumstances, but not in this one.
It's 21:40 now, and we could have gone into the third set. Tomorrow, I have to be at Foro Italico already at 11:30 and wait for my match if something unexpected happens. The schedule does not hurt me, but I think it's not o.k.
The order of play usually comes from the tournament director and someone from the ATP, and I think they made it wrong. I'm not angry, but that's how I feel," Rafael Nadal.