Rising star Jannik Sinner took giant strides during the 2020 season, winning his first ATP title and ending the year at a career-best ranking of No. 37. The 19-year-old also recorded a win over Alexander Zverev at Roland Garros, on his way to reaching his first ever Slam quarterfinal.
However, Sinner was not happy with Zverev's comments after that match, where the German cited his poor health as the reason for his loss. In an interview with Corriere, the Sofia Open champion claimed that even if Zverev was hampered by illness during the contest, that wasn't evident in the way he sprinted around the court.
"I respect him a lot because he's won more than me, he's got more experience on the circuit, and he's a great player," Sinner said. "However, I do not respect his statements after his defeat to me at Roland Garros. He contradicted himself a lot. He said he had a fever, but in the third and fourth sets, he ran more than me."
Jannik Sinner had entered the 2020 French Open on the back of a strong performance at the Rome Masters. Playing in his home tournament, the San Candido native had beaten sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas on his way to the Round of 16.
A week later in Paris, the Italian defeated David Goffin, Benjamin Bonzi, Federico Coria and Zverev to set up a quarterfinal clash with Rafael Nadal. The King of Clay ended Sinner's dream run by defeating him in straight sets, but the 19-year-old won the respect of fans everywhere with his spirited showing.
The win against Alexander Zverev in the fourth round is by far the biggest of Jannik Sinner's career so far. Notably, the Italian blasted Zverev off the court in the first two sets, before the 2020 US Open finalist bounced back in the third to win it 6-4. Sinner regained the ascendancy in the fourth set to wrap up the match, even though Zverev tried his best to extend points with his defense.
After his loss, Zverev told the press he should have withdrawn from the match. "I'm completely sick," the German had said in his post-match press conference. "I can't really breathe, as you can hear by my voice. I had a fever as well. I shouldn't have played."
But Jannik Sinner believes Alexander Zverev was merely looking for excuses by mentioning the fever after the match. Sinner also asserted that Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal would have never said something like that if they were in the German's position.
"It seems to me that he was looking for an excuse after his defeat. Federer or Nadal, for example, would never have said such things," Sinner added.
Jannik Sinner heaps praise on Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal is an idol for many upcoming players. The Spaniard has won 20 Grand Slam titles in his legendary career, and he has been supremely dominant on clay.
Rafael Nadal ended Sinner's journey at the French Open this year, but the youngster took that as a learning experience. During the same interview the Italian player lauded Nadal's playing style, while also mentioning that he would love to face Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic soon.