India’s Sumit Nagal, making his US Open main draw debut, gave a spirited performance before going down against tennis great Roger Federer 6-4, 1-6, 2-6, 4-6 at the Arthur Ashe stadium in New York.
World No. 190 Nagal started well, playing a great defensive game and keeping great composure to win the first set. Federer, on the other hand, committed multiple unforced errors and showed signs of weakness against the 22-year old Indian.
Nagal trailed by 0-2, but got back on serve when Federer double-faulted down breakpoint in the third game. Nagal then took advantage of a slew of Federer misses to break him and go up 5-4. Federer got only 48 percent of his first serves in and had three doubles faults. He had 19 unforced errors.
Former junior Wimbledon champion became the first Indian player to take the first set against 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer in the history of tennis.
Having never lost the first round of a Grand Slam, Federer bounced back in the second set, taking straight five games to make it 5-0, despite making 14 unforced errors. After going up a double break, Federer saved both break points, holding onto his lead throughout. The final game of the set was a long drawn-out one as Federer needed seven set points to finally draw level in the match.
The resurgent Swiss star played some superb forehand winners, improved his first serve percentage and cut down on the unforced errors by a big margin to win the third set by four games and committing only four unforced errors. Nagal, however, kept his calm and did not keep it easy for Federer, making him fight for points.
Federer started the fourth set well, taking the first two games. But Nagal gave a tough fight again and with a stunning forehand winner, Nagal got the break point to level the set at 2-2. Federer’s backhand return hit the top of the net and dropped in, to give him three break points before Nagal makes a comeback to make it 4-3.
“I thought I played like my beard today, I was rusty,” Federer, who was sporting a few days worth of stubble, said in his on-court interview. “I’m going to clean it up for my next match.”