Sumit Nagal’s unbeaten streak of seven matches was halted by fellow qualifier Ilya Ivashka as the Indian bowed out of Tata Open Maharashtra following a tame defeat, in Pune on Tuesday.
Nagal, ranked 223, came into the match after winning the Bengaluru Open and two qualifying matches in Pune for his maiden ATP World Tour event but suffered a 3-6 3-6 defeat in the opening round against the Belarusian, placed seven places below him.
It was second meeting between 20-year-old Nagal and Ivashka with the Indian losing the first match at the same venue during the 2015 Challenger event.
There were no easy points for Nagal as Ivashka not only played aggressive but had good control over his strokes. His measured game meant that there were not many unforced errors, forcing Nagal to rethink his strategy.
Realising that Ivashka was having problem in tackling high bounce, Nagal tried to feed such balls consistently but the Belarusian was up to the task and raced to a 4-1 lead following a break of serve in the fourth game.
Ivashka kept Nagal under the pump by moving him side to side with his superior stroke-play. Even holding serve became tough for the young Indian.
Serving to stay in the set, Nagal was up 30-0 but a flurry of unforced errors, including a double fault, meant that he was soon facing a set point. He managed to save that but unrelenting Ivashka closed the set in his favour by serving the next game at love.
Nagal tried very hard but could not find a way to overcome his opponent. He lost serve in the very first game of the second set when he hit a forehand wide.
While Ivashka maintained the intensity, Nagal was again facing a break point in the third game. Desperate to save the point, he even argued with the chair umpire who overruled the wrong call from a lines’ umpire and asked to replay the point.
Nagal did save that point but was soon facing another. Egged on by the little crowd, the 20-year-old Haryana lad finally got on board.
Trailing by a set and a break, Nagal did not do any good to his cause by dropping serve in the fifth. The match was as good as over however Ivashka dropped serve while serving for the match.
Nagal’s struggle to put the ball in the court and was down 0-40, facing three match points. He lost with a double fault on the first.
In an all-Indian clash, India’s top singles player Yuki Bhambri will be up against Arjun Kadhe later in the evening. In another match of great interest is the doubles first round encounter between defending champions Rohan Bopanna and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Leander Paes and Purav Raja.