Teenage sensation Jannik Sinner recently showered lavish praise on Rafael Nadal, whom he lost to at the French Open last month.
Sinner's exploits at Roland Garros - where he made the last eight - prompted many to draw parallels with the Spaniard's run back in 2005. Much like Rafael Nadal, Sinner also made his maiden Slam quarterfinal appearance in Paris, and that too at the same age (19).
Sinner couldn't go all the way like Nadal did in 2005, and he fell in the quarterfinals to none other than the King of Clay himself. But although the Italian went down in straight sets, he did give Nadal a tough fight for a couple of hours.
During a recent interview with Italian website Corriere Della Sera, Sinner was asked to describe what it was like to face the 20-time Slam champion. The 19-year-old was quick to point out Rafael Nadal’s mental and physical abilities, but reserved special praise for the Spaniard’s awareness and intuition.
Sinner believes that Nadal's immaculate decision-making puts him above everyone else in the game.
"There are no words to explain Rafa,” Sinner said. “He is very superior mentally. He hits the ball very hard like the others but understands moments like no one else. He knows exactly what to do, and how and when to do it."
Jannik Sinner is touted by many to follow in Rafael Nadal's footsteps and win big titles all across the world. Nadal's uncle Toni also recently marked out the young Italian for greatness.
Sinner, however, doesn't take such comparisons with Rafael Nadal too seriously. The 19-year-old stressed that he still has a number of key areas, both physical and mental, to address before he can scale the same heights as Nadal.
The Italian's physician has noted his potential for more physical growth, and Sinner reckons he needs a lot more time before his development can be said to be complete.
“The blows, the head, the body, all of it,” Sinner said when asked what he needs to improve. “The doctor said I'm not done growing and developing yet. We know that I can throw the forehand and the backhand, but I have to improve in every aspect, settle down physically. It takes time. It all starts from the mind.”
I would love to play against Roger Federer, and also against Novak Djokovic or Dominic Thiem: Jannik Sinner
Jannik Sinner has risen up the ranks rapidly over the last one year. Of late he has found himself locking horns with the big boys of men's tennis, including Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev
However, the Italian is yet to face some of the greats of the game like Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem.
Jannik Sinner revealed that he would love to face Swiss legend Roger Federer, while also expressing similar ambitions about playing Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem.
"I would love to play against Federer,” Sinner said. “I would also like to play against Djokovic or Thiem. Sooner or later, they will all face me.”