India's Sumit Nagal enjoyed a dream Grand Slam debut on Monday when he faced-off against 20-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer in the first round of the 2019 US Open. The 22-year-old surprised everyone, including the Swiss maestro, when he won the first set 6-4 raising faint hopes of an upset win. However, Federer bounced back to win the match 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.
By making his Grand Slam bow at Flushing Meadows, Nagal became only the fifth Indian male player to feature in a Grand Slam singles main draw in this decade after Somdev Devvarman, Yuki Bhambri, Saketh Myneni and Prajnesh Gunneswaran.
Nagal's father Suresh enrolled him at the DDA tennis academy when Sumit was seven years old, according to The Indian Express. Two years later, the Jhajjar native travelled to New Delhi for trials for Mahesh Bhupathi's academy.
"I was hitting with the other kids and there was a moment where I went to Mahesh and said, 'Mr. Bhupathi, could you please look at my game?'. I knew who he was, so I grabbed his hand and asked him to look at my game. After that, it's apparently when he told my family that they're going to take me," Nagal said in an interview with the ATP website.
Nagal trained under Bhuupathi until 2011 before moving to Canada and then to Germany three years later. He trained under Mariano Delfino from 2014 to 2018 at the Schüttler Waske Tennis-University. He currently trains at Nensel Academy in Germany under head coach Sascha Nensel.
In 2015, Nagal and Vietnamese partner Ly Hoang Nam beat Reilly Opelka and Akira Santilla to clinch the Wimbledon Boys Doubles title.
Nagal was included in India's Davis Cup squad for the World Group Play-offs against Spain where he made his debut. In his only Davis Cup match to date, Nagal lost to veteran Marc Lopez.
At the 2017 Bengaluru Challenger, Nagal stunned top-seed Blaz Kavcic on his way to clinching his first Challenger title. After a topsy-turvy 2018 season, Nagal began the 2019 season ranked 349 in the world.
Clay is Nagal's favourite surface and he reached the semi-finals in five of seven Challengers this year. His impressive showing on the red dirt helped him steadily climb the rankings as he broke through the top-200 for the first time in his career. He also made his ATP Tour debut at Hamburg where he lost to Richard Gasquet in the first round. Nagal admitted that he had originally planned to skip the US Open and continue to grind on clay for the rest of the year.
Updated Date: Aug 27, 2019 11:47:54 IST