The Australian Open will officially start on February 8, gathering the world's leading players under strict healthy rules and measures. The competitors will arrive in Melbourne in mid-January and embrace a two-week quarantine.
In the first week, two players and their coaches will hit the court for a couple of hours every day, with some training pairs already being confirmed. The 20-time Major champion Rafael Nadal will work with the young Italian Jannik Sinner, one of the best upcoming stars in the world of tennis.
Rafa and Jannik had already trained in Melbourne a year ago during Sinner's debut at the first Major of the season, arranging more training sessions in January ahead of the new season's first big event. Jannik Sinner made remarkable progress in the previous two seasons, gaining 500 positions on the ATP ranking list to settle into the top-40 at the end of 2020.
The San Candido native claimed three Challenger titles in 2019, made a Major debut and reached the semi-final in Antwerp to announce his arrival. After a slower start of the 2020 campaign, the youngster secured 15 of the season's last 19 matches, advancing into the Roland Garros quarter-final and lifting the first ATP trophy in Sofia.
In Paris, Sinner made a notable debut, beating four opponents to become the youngest quarter-finalist since Rafael Nadal, his next opponent!
Rafael Nadal and Jannik Sinner will train together in the Melbourne's first week.
Following the marathon clash between Diego Schwartzman and Dominic Thiem, Rafa and Jannik stepped on the court under a closed roof of Philippe-Chatrier and competed until 1:30 am!
The Spaniard secured a 7-6, 6-4, 6-1 triumph after a real struggle in the opening two sets, with Jannik showing his full potential and ruthless shotmaking abilities against the king of clay. Staying in touch with a great rival, Sinner secured a break at 5-5 in the opener, serving for the set before Nadal broke back and won the tie break 7-4 to avoid an early scare.
Jannik forged the advantage with a forehand winner in the second set's fourth game, losing serve in the next one and allowing Rafa to get back on the scoreboard. Sinner opened a 40-15 lead in game nine before Nadal took four straight points to seize a crucial break, closing the set at 5-4 and moving closer to the finish line.
Carried by this momentum, Rafa broke at the beginning of the third set thanks to a backhand crosscourt winner, held after deuce and grabbed the second break at love to move 3-0 ahead. The Spaniard sealed the deal with a break at 5-1, overpowering the youngster and advancing into the semis.