Jannik Sinner says he learnt a “big, big lesson” in preparing for the Australian Open by practicing with Rafael Nadal, after losing in the first round to Denis Shapovalov.
The up-and-coming Italian was more than a match for Canada’s 11th seed, taking him all the way to five sets before Shapovalov claimed a 3-6 6-3 6-2 4-6 6-4 victory in a match which finished in the early hours of Tuesday morning, Melbourne time.
The world number 32 said his time in Australia was in no way a wasted experience, as he reflected on training with 20-time Grand Slam champion Nadal.
Highlights | Denis Shapovalov - Jannik Sinner
- 'I'm going to p*** my pants! I'm going to p*** in a bottle!' - Shapovalov's bizarre row
- Australian Open 2021 order of play - Nadal, Barty, Kenin day two action
“I think practice with Rafa” answered Sinner, when asked what was the biggest lesson he learnt during his time Down Under.
“It's a big, big lesson. Even today I lost, but, you know, I have to understand why I lost and then it's going to be a big lesson, as well, I think.
“So it's not the only one but I think firstly to come here, the reason why we came here was to practice with Rafa for two weeks, because I think he can give me many things about how to stay on court with the right mentality and I think that's the biggest lesson.
“Even today it's, for me, mentally tough losing here in the fifth, but it's going to be a lesson, as well.”
‘Extraordinary! How on earth?’ – Sinner shows off amazing defensive skills
Sinner believes Shapovalov’s serving was the difference in a match with little to separate the players, but he’s delighted he has the chance to step on to a match court again.
“Over the lockdown I have missed competing. I'm here to compete.
“I'm already looking forward to improve day after day, and playing next tournament with the right mentality.”
The Australian Open is live on Eurosport. Watch every match live and ad-free on the Eurosport app and eurosport.co.uk. You can download the Eurosport app for iOS and Android now.