Sumit Nagal Qualifies For US Open Main Draw, To Face Roger Federer In 1st Round
Sumit Nagal, ranked 190 in the world, will face 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer at US Open's showpiece court, the Arthur Ashe Stadium, in the first round.
Sumit Nagal became the youngest Indian in 25 years to qualify for a Grand Slam main draw after advancing through the US Open 2019 qualifying tournament. Sumit Nagal, the 2015 Wimbledon junior boys doubles champion, came back from a set down to beat Pan American Games gold medallist Joao Menezes of Brazil 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 on Friday to book his ticket for the US Open 2019. The 22-year-old Sumit Nagal, ranked 190 in the world, will face 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer at US Open's showpiece court, the Arthur Ashe Stadium, in the first round.
Sumit Nagal is the second Indian to qualify for the US Open 2019 men's singles main draw. He will join Prajnesh Gunneswaran, whose world ranking of 89 gave him an automatic seeding in the main draw of the 2019 US Open.
Prajnesh Gunneswaran will face ATP Cincinnati Masters winner Daniil Medvedev in his first round match.
For Sumit Nagal it will be the biggest highlight of his career so far as this will be his first main draw Grand Slam tournament match and only his third at the ATP Tour main draw level.
On Friday, Sumit Nagal came back from the dead after losing the first set 5-7. In the second set, the Indian player was 1-4 down when made an astonishing comeback to take the set 6-4 with the final set also going in his favour.
Sumit Nagal had beaten Canada's Peter Polansky 7-5, 7-6 in two hours and five minutes in the second qualifying round to set up a clash against Joao Menezes.
The 22-year-old Indian has become only the fifth Indian player to feature in a Grand Slam singles main draw in this decade.
Somdev Devvarman, Yuki Bhambri, Saketh Myneni and Prajnesh Gunneswaran are the only ones who have played at tennis Majors.
Nagal had also become only the sixth Indian player to win a junior Grand Slam title in 2015 when he won Wimbledon boys doubles with Nam Hoang Ly of Vietnam.
With Prajnesh also playing in this US Open, India now will have two players in the Grand Slam main draw for the first time since 1998 when legends Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi competed at the Wimbledon.
Nagal came into the US Open qualifiers confident, backed by terrific results during the clay court season. Consistent results on the Challenger Circuit meant that he broke into the top-200 for the first time in his career and has now earned himself a chance to play a match which every tennis player dreams of.
He had started the year outside the 350 bracket and had to overcome a difficult period, encountering injuries but came back strong. India's Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi, who was the first to spot Nagal's talent and took him under his wings to provide support, said it's a career defining moment for the 22-year-old from Jhajjar in Haryana.
"Nagal has been unlucky with injuries and has worked very hard to get back to this level. Playing Roger at the US Open at night is every qualifier's dream and nightmare and I think this experience will both be a confidence booster and a career defining moment for him," Bhupathi told PTI, reacting to Nagal's impending Grand Slam debut.
So what Nagal needs to do to not get overwhelmed when he finds Federer across the court?
"He needs to enjoy the moment and go for his shots," said Bhupathi.
(With PTI inputs)