Following the quarter-final Madrid Open loss to Alexander Zverev, Rafael Nadal came to Rome eager to improve his game and chase the tenth Foro Italico crown. Facing probably the most formidable second-round rival, Rafa defeated Jannik Sinner 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.
Already knowing tomorrow's schedule, Rafa couldn't spend much time with journalists, saying he needs to rest, as he plays around 13:00 on Thursday. Rafa and Denis Shapovalov will hit the Center Court when Novak Djokovic and Ashleigh Barty finish their matches, and the Spaniard wasn't happy when he saw the schedule.
Rafa said that it would have been acceptable to play at around 13:00 in some other circumstances, but not this one, especially had Jannik and him gone into a decider.
Rafael Nadal finished the match against Jannik Sinner at 21:20.
The schedule aside, Rafa played a good match against Sinner, suffering three breaks and stealing 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 tonight, controlling the pace and beating the opponent in both the shortest and more advanced rallies to overpower the young gun and 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 of set number two.
Sinner built a 4-2 advantage, playing well and looking good to force a decider before Nadal rattled off four straight games to move over the top and avoid spending more time on the court. "Unfortunately, the press conference can't last for long, as I have to play early tomorrow.
The action starts at 10:00 am, and my match is scheduled third, so I can play at around 13:00. That wouldn't 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 doesn't 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.