When Rafael Nadal blasted Rome organizers



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When Rafael Nadal blasted Rome organizers

Rafael Nadal could not reach the semi-final in Monte Carlo and Madrid last year. The Spaniard was eager to change that at the season's last clay-court Masters 1000 event in Rome. Chasing the tenth crown at Foro Italico, Rafa faced probably the most formidable second-round rival at the start of the event, battling against the home star Jannik Sinner.

Nadal prevailed 7-5, 6-4 in the last match of Wednesday's program, finishing the clash around 21:20 and heading towards a short press conference. Knowing tomorrow's schedule, Rafa could not spend much time with journalists, saying he needed to rest, as he was scheduled to play again around 13:00 on Thursday.

Rafa and Denis Shapovalov would hit the Center Court when Novak Djokovic and Ashleigh Barty finished their matches, and the Spaniard was not happy when he saw the program. Rafa said it would have been acceptable to play at around 13:00 in regular circumstances, but not this one, especially had Jannik and him gone into a decider.

Rafael Nadal finished the match against Jannik Sinner in Rome last year at 21:20.

The schedule aside, Rafa played a good match against Sinner. He suffered three breaks and stole the youngster's serve five times to seal the de in just over two hours and reach the last 16.

Unlike against Zverev in Madrid, when he barely hit a couple of direct points, Rafa played much more aggressive tennis in Rome. He controlled the pace and beat the young gun in the shortest and more advanced rallies to move through.

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 and gain a boost ahead.

Sinner built a 4-2 advantage in set number two, playing well and looking good to force a decider. Still, 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 ahead of another dangerous opponent.

"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. That means I can play 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 the wrong decision. I'm not angry, but that's how I feel," Rafael Nadal.