The 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal will face the young Italian star Jannik Sinner in the fourth round. Rafa and Jannik battled in Paris in October last year, when Sinner reached the last eight on his debut as the youngest player to achieve that after Nadal himself in 2005! Unimpressed by the rival on the other side of the net, Jannik pushed Rafa to the limits in their late encounter, serving for the opening set and opening the lead in the second before falling 7-6, 6-4, 6-1 after two hours and 49 minutes! Returning to Paris as the top-20 player, Sinner prevailed over Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the opening round after fending off a match point and played better in the next two matches to set the third clash versus Nadal within eight months.
The Spaniard is aware of how dangerous the Italian is, saying he must play on a high level to beat him and remain on the title course. In their most recent encounter, Rafa beat Jannik 7-5, 6-4 in the second round in Rome after over two hours, trailing twice in the opener and erasing a 4-2 deficit in the second to rattle off four straight games and move into the next round.
Rafael Nadal and Jannik Sinner will battle for a place in the quarter-final in Paris.
“Today, I faced a great player who has enjoyed an excellent season. I went on the court knowing it could be a tough match, and it was for moments. I’m happy to win in straight sets, and I think I did what I had to do. For moments, I played well, especially in the opening set. I still have to improve some elements, but it has been so far so good for me. You can’t expect an easy opponent out there. Jannik Sinner is not an ideal fourth-round opponent you can get. Without a doubt, he’s a dangerous one. He is a young, great player. We know each other well, so let’s see what will happen. I need to be ready to play at a very high level to have chances of reaching the quarters, and I’m going to fight for it. I don’t think I was returning unbelievable against Cameron; it was o.k. But then I was solid from the baseline and forced him to always play an extra ball,” Rafael Nadal said.