10:30 PM GMT May 12, 2021
When Jannik Sinner sat down for his press conference following his loss against Rafael Nadal at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Wednesday evening, the Italian was clearly disappointed. The 19-year-old took little solace knowing he pushed the Spaniard in two tight sets on clay.
“The mentality is obviously the most important part on this sport. I knew that in Roland Garros I could play good or quite well against him because of many reasons. There I showed it for one set,” Sinner said. “This time, I knew that I can do something more and I walked on court more confident about my weapons that I have. I think I'm improving, to have more weapons every tournament I play, trying to have more solutions about every problem.
“This is the point that we are working on, and there especially we have to improve a little bit more. It's a lesson, which is tough to accept, but I will accept it for sure because I have to get better.”
Last year at Roland Garros, Sinner played well to test Nadal in the quarter-finals, ultimately falling short in three sets. This time, the teen felt he had a chance to make it even closer.
“For sure I'm more disappointed and especially sad today, because I think obviously we both played quite a high-level match. Now it's tough to accept that I'm already out of the court because the first set I was up twice with a break, and the second set I was up with a break,” Sinner said. “It's tough to accept, because obviously I think Roland Garros was more like a test to see where I am and this time I knew that I could have and maybe today I should have done something more.”
Sinner held a break advantage over Nadal on three occasions in the match, but he was unable to capitalise on his leads. The 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion went blow-for-blow with the second seed, but he gave the lefty too many opportunities. Nadal earned 15 break points, converting five of them.
“When I lose I always try to [take] out the positives, trying to find what I should have done better," Sinner said. "Obviously right now it's tough to talk about the match. Twenty minutes ago I was still on court. I'm still playing a little bit in my head what I should have done better in some exact points.
“It's tough right now, to be honest, because playing here, in Rome, it's quite a special tournament I have to say, especially for Italians. If [I] would have won today, tomorrow there [would] be a little bit of a crowd. I love to play in front of crowds.”
Sinner used the words “disappointed” and “sad” to describe his emotions shortly after the loss. Now he will focus on learning from the match and coming back stronger.
“He handled the situations better than me, like the last time. There are for sure lessons that I can learn,” Sinner said. “We have to come together with my team and watch many, many times this match from today. Then we will see what we should have done better.”