Italian teenager Jannik Sinner became the first debutant to reach the French Open quarter-finals since Rafael Nadal in 2005 when he downed German sixth seed ‘completely sick’ Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 on Sunday.
The 19-year-old, who will also be the youngest male player since Novak Djokovic in 2006 to feature in the last eight at Roland Garros, will face 12-times champion Nadal for a place in the semi-finals. The South Tyrolian, winner of last year’s NextGen ATP Finals, dropped a set for the first time in the tournament but he never lost his composure. Sinner ended it on a windswept Court Suzanne Lenglen with a booming forehand that Zverev could only return into the net.
“I am completely sick after the match with Cecchinato in the night. I can’t really breathe, as you can hear by my voice,” Zverev told reporters after the match. “I had fever, you know, as well. Yeah, I’m not in the best physical state,” said Zverev, who made 47 unforced errors and just 20 winners. “To be honest, I warmed up today. I shouldn’t have played. But I was hoping maybe for a three-set win or something like that.”
He summoned the doctor to ask for a cold spray in the first set on a blustery day in Paris. Sascha was criticised in the summer after he was spotted partying despite vowing to self-isolate following Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour, during which a number of players tested positive for coronavirus. He has been tested negative in his tests following his match.
Asked whether he was concerned for his own health after defeating Zverev at a tournament delayed four months due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Sinner largely played down concerns.
“I didn’t realize anything. I mean, I think in the first set he asked for the doctor on court, but I didn’t ask for what,” said Sinner. “I was focusing about myself. So if he had something, yeah, I’m sorry for him, for sure.” “He’s not positive for (Covid-19). We have got tested quite many times, you know, and obviously we were not that nearby,” continued Sinner. “I tried to be focused in the first service game in the fourth set, which I did, and then it went quite well.”
Sinner will face Nadal in the quarter-final encounter.