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Nadal vs Sinner French Open tennis preview, head-to-head and predictions

hannahwilks in French Open 05 Oct 2020
Rafael Nadal (Photo by Laurent Zabulon/ABACAPRESS.COM)

Rafael Nadal targets a thirteenth French Open semifinal appearance as he takes on Jannik Sinner, the Italian teenager making his Roland Garros debut, in the quarterfinals.

Nadal vs Sinner is live from Roland Garros on Tuesday 6 October, 7pm local/6pm BST

At 19, Jannik Sinner is the youngest player since 2006 to make the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam and the first player since Rafael Nadal himself to reach the last eight at the French Open on his debut appearance – but he’s up against the man himself now.

French Open 2020: Find out tournament information for Roland Garros 2020 and how to stream French Open matches live

Despite dire predictions about how Nadal would struggle to deal with the conditions, the 12-time champion is yet to drop a set and has lost only 23 games in four matches. Could Sinner be the first player to meaningfully test him?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

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Nadal vs Sinner: Head-to-head

This is the first meeting between Rafael Nadal and Jannik Sinner.

Nadal vs Sinner: Preview

It would make for a splendid story if Rafael Nadal were to lose to the first player to make the French Open quarterfinals on his debut since Nadal himself, but it doesn’t look too likely to happen.

We haven’t really seen Nadal face a tough opponent so far at the French Open – not that there any many tough opponents for Nadal at the French Open – with his trickiest test so far against world no. 83 Egor Gerasimov in the first round, who won ten of the 23 games Nadal has conceded so far at the tournament; that probably had more to do with conditions and the need to adjust to them than anything else. Young qualifier Sebastian Korda certainly didn’t manage to make much of an impact on Nadal’s game in the last 16, losing 1-6, 1-6, 2-6 (although what else can be expected when a player asks his opponent for their autograph after the match).

Nadal’s adaptability has been on full display so far: He’s flattened out his shots, especially on the cross-court backhand, and adjusted his court positioning for maximum impact. He hasn’t faced a single break point in two of his matches so far, although he was broken by both Gerasimov and Korda – once.

Jannik Sinner (JBAutissier/Panoramic.)

The question is how all of this will hold up against a tougher opponent – Nadal looked pretty good in Rome, too, until he came up against Diego Schwartzman – and whether or not Sinner can be that opponent.

The Italian teenager broke into the top 100 at the end of last year after winning the Ortisei Challenger (his third Challenger title of the season) and went on to win the Next Gen ATP Finals. Like Stefanos Tsitsipas, who preceded him as Next Gen champion, Sinner’s rise promises to be swift; a quarterfinalist in Rotterdam earlier this year, he got his second top-10 win of the year over Tsitsipas himself in Rome and has only dropped one set on his way to the French Open quarterfinals, against Alexander Zverev in the last 16.

Against Zverev, Sinner didn’t just showcase his blazing power; he had a smart game plan and he executed it consistently, refusing to be drawn into a grindfest and managing his energy much better than he was able to do at the US Open in his five-set defeat to Karen Khachanov. I actually think the Italian can cause Nadal some problems, if he handles the match well emotionally; the forehand battle in particular should be one to watch and Sinner’s attacking game can rock even Nadal back on his heels – for a little while. Nadal will win, but perhaps Sinner can push the scoreline to respectable levels.

Nadal vs Sinner: Prediction