Speaking about the players he wants to watch closely in 2021, the four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist Tim Henman picked Roger Federer and Jannik Sinner. The young Italian finishes the season inside the top-40, winning the first ATP title in Sofia and reaching the quarter-final on Roland Garros debut.
Becoming the youngest debutant in Paris since Rafael Nadal in 2005, Sinner defeated four rivals to set the clash against the 12-time champion, challenging Rafa in the opening two sets before losing 7-6, 6-4, 6-1. Nadal and Sinner had to wait for hours to start their clash on Court Philippe-Chatrier following the marathon encounter between Dominic Thiem and Diego Schwartzman that passed the five-hour mark, entering the court after them and finishing the clash just before 1:30 am!
Rafa had to work much harder than in the previous four rounds to earn the 98th Roland Garros victory, battling against a determined and fearless opponent before breaking racing towards the finish line in set number three.
Nadal grabbed six breaks from eight chances and got broken twice, completing the match with 37 winners and 33 unforced errors. Sinner was ready to challenge Nadal right from the start, creating a break chance at 2-2 and serving well in the opening five service games, becoming the first player who took five games in a single set from Rafa this year in Paris.
Not stopping there, Jannik produced a break at 5-5 to move in front, serving for the set but losing ground in the crucial moment. Nadal landed two forehand winners to pull the break back in the last moment and prolong the set, taking the tie break 7-4 when Sinner sent a forehand long right after the serve.
Tim Henman praised Jannik Sinner's performace against Rafael Nadal in Paris.
The youngster placed a forehand winner at 2-1 in set number two to forge the advantage, still pushing strong and showing no signs of nerves.
The more experienced player broke back immediately after a forehand error from Jannik, leveling the score at 3-3 and gaining a boost. Sinner had a 40-15 lead in game nine but couldn't bring it home, dropping four straight points and allowing Rafa to seize a crucial break and a set after two hours and 11 minutes.
Carried by this momentum, Rafa broke in the third set's first game thanks to a backhand crosscourt winner and another at 2-0 at love when Jannik sprayed a backhand mistake. The Spaniard sealed the deal with the third break at 5-1, overpowering the youngster and advancing into the last four.
"For the next season, I'm interested in watching Roger Federer. If I'm going with another name, I will pick Jannik Sinner. I've been very impressed with his progress. His performance against Nadal at Roland Garros was very impressive," Tim Henman said.