Indian tennis player Sumit Nagal will be seen contesting with Tennis legend Roger Federer in his debut match in a Grand Slam on Monday. Nagal won the match against Brazil’s Joao Menezes in the qualifying round to earn the dream spot.
In the last round of qualifiers, Nagal lost the first set but regrouped for a 5-7 6-4 6-3 win over the Brazilian in two hours and 27 minutes.
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 other players 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.
India’s Davis Cup captain 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,” suggested Bhupathi.