India’s young gun Sumit Nagal says he is playing his “best tennis” for the last few months as he earned his debut on the ATP World Tour by qualifying for the inaugural Tata Open Maharashtra following a hard-fought win over seasoned Adrian Menendez-Maceiras, in Pune on Sunday. In a gruelling second round qualifying match, the 20-year old Nagal prevailed 6-2 3-6 6-4 over world number 127 after battling hard for two hours and 21 minutes, saving nine of the 11 breakpoints he faced.
Nagal had ended the 2017 on a high by winning the USD 100,000 Bengaluru Open and has carried the good form into fresh season. The Haryana born player, who won the junior Wimbledon doubles title in 2015, says he has worked on his game and it is showing in results. It was his fourth meeting with Adrian, having lost to the 32-year old in all three previous attempts.
“Last year also when I lost to him, I lost from three match points. One point here and there and it could have been different result from last year,” Nagal told PTI after the match. “Today also I was 1-3 down in third set but I pushed myself and changed the game, here and there and I am happy it worked this time. I recently lost to him at this (Pune) Challenger again. I am pretty happy with the way I played,” Nagal said.
“It’s the best tennis I am playing in the last three four months. I hope to carry the same momentum in the 2018 season. I hope to do well at the Challenger and Tour level,” he further added.
Asked what is bringing better results for him, Nagal said he has worked hard on every aspect of his game.
“It’s a bit of everything. With age you grow stronger. If you look at it, I am very not very big. I am not the guy who stands and serves big, so I need time to develop my strokes, my physical and mental strength.
“I am happy I am improving in every scenario. And these 2-3 percent is making a difference. I was losing, when I was a set and a break up in the decider. I was losing 4-6 or 5-7 in the third set because few points mattered here and there,” he said.
Nagal looks very focused having courted a controversy soon after making his Davis Cup debut in 2016 as he was dropped from the team on disciplinary grounds. He seem to have left it behind and has come out stronger.
Due to his excellent court coverage and retrieving ability, he has already started drawing comparison with Somdev Devvarman, who was known for his dogged fight on courts. However, Nagal said it’s too early to compare him with such a good player.
“You can’t compare me with Somdev. If I can be as fast and as good in fitness level, I will be very happy. I will sleep very happy but there is a huge difference. I hope one day I will also improve. I will keep taking advise from him,” he said.
On his debut at big stage, Nagal now ranked 223 will clash with fellow qualifier Ilya Ivashka, ranked 230 in the world.