Australian Open 2021: Sumit Nagal has 'gut feeling' of facing another top-10 player

Sumit has been awarded a wild card for the main draw and will know his opponent on Thursday when the draw for the rescheduled major is announced.

Tanuj Lakhina February 02, 2021 17:30:40 IST
Australian Open 2021: Sumit Nagal has 'gut feeling' of facing another top-10 player

Sumit Nagal got his Australian Open preparation going with a defeat but looked at the positives. AP

Sumit Nagal reckons he will play a top-10 player once again when the Australian Open gets underway on 8 February. The Indian alluded to having a "gut feeling" that he will once again play a top player, after having taken on Roger Federer (at the 2019 US Open) and Dominic Thiem (at the 2020 US Open) in the past.

"I was talking about this with my coach last night and I have a feeling that I will play a top-10 player. It's my gut feeling, let's see what happens," Nagal said in a virtual media conference from Melbourne on Tuesday.

Sumit has been awarded a wild card for the main draw and will know his opponent on Thursday when the draw for the rescheduled major is announced.

Nagal took a set off Federer and tried to push Thiem but couldn't cause an upset. "It is with a lot of players that they perform better when they are up against really good players. For me, I get to learn playing them so I don't mind playing big players, someone in top-10," the 23-year-old said.

"To try and match what Federer does is very very difficult. What I learn from him is how he understands himself and how he reads the game. He will never make the same mistake twice, he's that good.

"I could learn a lot from Thiem. I would like to play the way he plays. solid backhand, serving well, good forehand. I try to copy him a lot."

Nagal added Federer and Thiem cannot be put in the same basket as far as their achievements are concerned. The Swiss, who is not playing the Australian Open due to injury, has won 20 Grand Slam titles while Thiem won his first at Flushing Meadows last year.

He admitted he looks to emulate what Thiem does on and off the court. "The way he (Thiem) practices, his intensity is pretty high. He makes sure that wherever he does, he does it right. He is very disciplined on court. He does not show bad behaviour in practice or matches."

Sumit was one of the lucky players to get access to tennis courts and gyms during the 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Melbourne. 72 players and coaching personnel were reduced to their hotel rooms for the entirety of the fortnight.

The Indian said living in a bio-bubble is not easy and the decision to stick by it is a personal choice. "It is different for each player. There are players who are a little older and who have families, probably got kids coming into the tennis tournament, when they come to play a tournament, probably they would want to visit the city and go out."

"I can understand those types of players pulling out of Grand Slams, I do not think it is easy, you can do it for a time frame but to do it for eight-nine months, it is not easy. I believe it is not easy for anyone, irrespective of his rank," he said.

Coming into the Australian Open, Nagal played in the warm-up event but lost in straight sets to Ricardas Bernakis at the Murray River Open. His last match was an injury-hampered contest in October.

"It is the same situation for everyone, for me, I would have liked to play some more tournaments, but unfortunately I had to end my last season a month earlier. There is nothing I can change, I am trying to practice as much as possible. I think I was lucky enough that our flight had no COVID cases, I would call myself lucky that I got to practice or be out of my room for five hours a day."

He, however, doesn't think players who were in strict quarantine will be at a disadvantage going into the tournament.

"I do not think that players who were in strict quarantine will be at disadvantage, everyone is going to have a week before the Australian Open starts. They are going to have eight-nine days, they are going to catch up. They also have first priority to everything, which is fair enough, nobody is questioning about that."

Australian Open 2021 will be Live on Sony Sports Network from 8 February

Updated Date:

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