In one of the most anticipated matches of the second round, the nine-time champion Rafael Nadal takes upon the young Italian Jannik Sinner. Nadal and Sinner met once at the last year's Roland Garros, with a teenager making a name for himself after reaching the quarter-final on his Parisian debut.
Jannik pushed Rafa to the limits in the opening two sets, serving for the opener and having a break advantage in the second before falling 7-6, 6-4, 6-1 in just under three hours. Showing no sign of nerves or respect towards one of the greatest players of all time, Jannik played bold and aggressive tennis in Paris, ready to follow the same pattern in Rome on Wednesday and overpower Rafa.
Sinner defeated Ugo Humbert in the opening match to gain momentum, hoping for more of the same against one of his idols, who will give his best to avoid an early loss after failing to reach the semis in Monte Carlo and Madrid.
Jannik is eager to play against Rafa again, training with him a couple of times and knowing his game well after spending two weeks together in Adelaide in January. The Italian believes he is a better player than he was last October, winning two titles in between and developing more potent weapons.
Jannik Sinner is ready to challenge Rafael Nadal in Rome on Wednesday.
"I know Rafa, but now he knows me well too. It will be an important moment for me; let's see how it goes. I will enter the court with the right mentality, and I will try to hurt him with my game.
My team and I will try to understand what I can do better than last time. This is a sport of situations, and for each one, you have to find the right solution. After Madrid, we resumed working according to our usual plan; no upheaval.
Maybe we focused a little more on the service. Against Nadal, it will be important to have the right mentality. I know I have more weapons than I did at Roland Garros, but at the same time, a grand champion like Rafa will know what to do to make me uncomfortable.
Playing against him on this surface is difficult, but every match has its own story. We know each other quite well, as we have also had the opportunity to train together several times. I will try to play my game and hope for the best," Jannik Sinner said.