Jannik Sinner says it is 'tough to accept' his defeat against Rafael Nadal in the Rome Masters after he put up an impressive fight against the world number three.
19-year-old Sinner is having a breakthrough season, reaching his first Masters final and breaking into the top 20 rankings last month, to underline his reputation as one of the hottest talents in tennis right now.
Unfortunately for him, he faced against Nadal, who is hoping to clinch his 10th Rome Masters title this week, and the pair put on an impressive two-set showdown, with the Spaniard having to pull out his best tennis to win 7-5, 6-4.
It was only their second meeting, with the previous one coming in the 2020 quarterfinals at Roland Garros, which Nadal also won over three sets, and Sinner said he'd hoped he could go one better this time.
“The mentality is obviously the most important part on this sport," Sinner said in his post-match press conference.
"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. 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.”
Asked how he felt about the match, and if he could take solace in the fact that he pushed the 20-time Grand Slam champion all the way, the young Italian said losing the lead was tough to take.
“For sure I'm more disappointed and especially sad today, because I think obviously we both played quite a high-level match," he explained.
"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.
“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.”
The Italian said he was also disappointed to go out of the tournament before getting the chance to play in front of his home spectators, as minimal crowds are allowed to attend from Thursday, but he will take a lot of lessons from the match.
“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.
“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.”
For more exclusive content from Tennisbuzz, including news, features, trivia, promotions and more, please be sure to sign up for our newsletter below or via our home page.
Why not test your tennis knowledge by tackling one of our fiendish quizzes too?