Facing each other for the second time, Rafael Nadal and Jannik Sinner played a high-quality match at the last year's Rome Masters. The more experienced player beat the youngster 7-5, 6-4 in the second round, enduring all the obstacles and prevailing after two hours and ten minutes.
Rafa lost serve thrice and secured five breaks to cross the finish line first. He overcame a break deficit twice in the opener and bounced back from 4-2 down in set number two to emerge at the top and avoid an early exit against a tricky rival.
Sinner gave his best to challenge the mighty opponent like in Paris 2020. Still, he failed to impose his shots and produce better numbers in his games. The youngster was disappointed to lose in straight sets, saying they both played on a high level and that he lacked the extra gear to present a more favorable result and fight for victory.
Jannik Sinner had chances against Rafael Nadal in Rome last year.
"The mentality is the most important part of this sport. I knew I could play quite well against Rafa at Roland Garros for many reasons. I showed that in the first set.
This time, I knew that I could do something more, and I walked onto the court more confident about my weapons. This is the point that we are working on, and there we have to improve a bit more. It's a lesson, which is tough to accept, but I will take it for sure because I have to get better.
I'm especially disappointed and sad after this loss because I think we both played quite a high-level match. Now it's tough to accept that I'm already out because I was a break up twice in the first set and once in the second.
It's tough to accept because I knew I could have and maybe should have done more. I always try to draw positive things and find what I should have done better when I lose. It's tough to talk about the match now, as I was still on the court 20 minutes ago.
I'm still playing a bit in my head about what I should have done better in some exact points. It's tough because Rome is quite a special tournament, especially for the Italians. If I had won today, tomorrow would have been a bit of a crowd, and I would love to play in front of them.
Rafa handled the tough moments better than me, like the last time in Paris. If I compare my game against Djokovic in Monte Carlo with today, I have improved many things. Today's loss hurts, and it will not make me sleep well at night," Jannik Sinner said.