Misc Tennis

TENNIS | Nagal will hope to do better than last year when he bowed out in the semifinals

Storm Sanders was Australia’s hero after she won the first singles rubber before returning for the deciding doubles match alongside 38-year-old Samantha Stosur.

Sumit Nagal of India plays a backhand return to Shang Juncheng of China during their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024.
| Photo Credit: AP

Sumit Nagal’s career has been a story of struggles, injuries, defeats, and a few successes along the way.

For the Indian, it all began here, in a way. In February last year, he reached the semifinals of the ATP Challenger as a wild card entry in qualifying. That performance gave him the required momentum to restart his career all over again. He went on to win a Challenger in April 2023 in Rome — becoming the first Indian to win on European clay.

When the 26-year-old returns to the city to take on a qualifier in the main draw of the Chennai Open here on Tuesday, he would like to do one better as the second seed. But, as always, the quintessential professional said he is focusing on one match at a time.

“It’s great to play a Challenger in Chennai. It is a privilege to play at home. I played in qualifying last time here and this time in the main draw. I am looking forward to it,” he said. “Playing against a qualifier will be tough as they have already had a taste of the conditions,” he added.

Sumit became the first Indian since Ramesh Krishnan in 1989 to beat a seeded player in a singles main draw of a Grand Slam, when he defeated Alexander Bublik in the first round of the Australian Open last month.

After a few hectic weeks, Sumit said it’s nice to be back at home. “I was at home for a few days, took some days off as my body was tired. Now it is back to the routine. I’ve been practising for the last few days,” said the Indian, ranked a career-high 121 in the world.

After making waves in Melbourne, Sumit will want to continue his good run in a city which has been a lucky mascot for him.

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