Sumit Nagal became popular not just in India but across the world with his stellar performance in the opening round of the 2019 Australian Open when he played against the great Roger Federer. Playing a sport like Tennis in India can never be easy thanks to the limited infrastructure and no real fan base. However, […]
Sumit Nagal became popular not just in India but across the world with his stellar performance in the opening round of the 2019 Australian Open when he played against the great Roger Federer. Playing a sport like Tennis in India can never be easy thanks to the limited infrastructure and no real fan base. However, Sumit Nagal as a youngster was too keen and talented in the sport of tennis to leave it all behind.
Sumit Nagal deeply credits his success to his father who supported him throughout the career and never made him feel the brunt of any financial constraints that the family was facing, so that Sumit could focus solely on the sport. Born to a middle-class family in Delhi, Sumit developed a liking for the sport at a very young age and it is his pure hard work combined with the natural talent that has brought him all the accolades. Let us look at what all went into making a champion tennis player coming from India.
Journey of a wonder boy in School to the “actual deal”
Studying at Little Angel School in Delhi, Sumit was keen on sports but more importantly his father was keener than him. His father, Suresh Nagal, wanted his son to stand out from the rest of the kids in India and hence wanted him to pick up a sport other than cricket. He took Sumit to a local sports club where Sumit fell in love with tennis and the rest, as they say, is history.
Sumit Nagal, at the age of 8, started playing tennis at school level seriously and was naturally good at it. He was so good that in 2008, he was one of the 14 kids who got selected in Mahesh Bhupati’s ‘Mission 2018’, which was backed by Apollo Tyres. Since the academy was in Bangalore, Sumit had to leave his family at a young age of 11 but this did not deter him from doing well in the programme. However, the programme soon got axed in just two years, leaving all the youngsters in disarray. Nonetheless, Sumit got a fresh lease of hope when the Canadian coach Bobby Mahal took him under his wings by taking him to Canada. Sumit continued to train under Mahal till 2014 before moving to Germany for his graduation and better facilities for tennis.
A Wimbledon Trophy in the cabinet
All the hard work that started back in 2008 finally reaped rewards in 2015 when Sumit Nagal won the Boys’ Doubles Championship in 2015 with partner Lý Hoàng Nam of Vietnam. He was only the second Indian after Sania Mirza to win a junior Grand Slam title. He showed the world his calibre at such a young age and quite a few legends of the game saw a spark in his game that was not seen before.
Marred by controversy but let his game did the talking
In 2017, Sumit Nagal was dropped from the national squad for the Davis Cup that year for multiple disciplinary lapses on his part. The AITA (All India Tennis Association) came out with the statement that Nagal was not serious about his practice sessions as he missed a few of them. Another allegation against him was that he brought his girlfriend to the courtside without seeking permission from the federation. All this led to the captain stripping him of his position in the side.
However, Sumit Nagal did not respond or comment in public regarding his omission. He did his racquet do the talking the very same year when he won the Bengaluru ATP Challenger Trophy by beating Australia’s Jay Clarke 6-3, 3-6, 6-2. This was his first ever ATP title at just 20 years old.
Post this effort, everyone expected a lot from the youngster but constant injuries caused a bump in his career graph in 2018. He failed in the qualifying rounds of both French Open and Wimbledon and had a dismal end to the year.
A near-perfect start to his Grand Slam career
When he was struggling with injuries and a career-low ranking of 306, people had started losing faith in him. However, he never lost faith in himself and kept at it. In the qualifying rounds of US Open 2019, he won the first two rounds but was staring at a loss in the third and final qualifying round with three games down in the third set. This is where the strong will and adrenaline rushed to help him stage a stunning comeback, winning 6 games on trot to take the set 6-3 and eventually win the match 5-7, 6-4, 6-3!
Sumit Nagal was now going to be part of the main draw of a Grand Slam for the very first time as a senior player. Now, you can call it a dream or an unlucky situation that he was drawn against arguably the greatest player to ever play the game, Roger Federer! No one could have written such a script for Sumit but there he was at one of the biggest stages in the world of tennis and playing a legend in his very first Grand Slam match!
If all the drama around the match was not enough, think of winning the first set 6-4 and to now be under pressure to outperform himself to stage one of the biggest upsets of all time in tennis. However, it was not meant to be as the Maestro got back in his groove and won the next three sets. Even so, this match will stay in Sumit Nagal’s life forever and he surely learnt a lot on that day and that too from the best in the business. Even Federer congratulated Nagal and said that the youngster will have a solid career in future.
With the whole country going gaga over Sumit Nagal’s wonderful and valiant effort against Roger Federer, Sumit Nagal has now become a national sensation in the field of tennis. Now, the nation expects even more from the youngster and with the immense talent he has, there should be only good in store for him.