Sumit Nagal "deserves it all": Yuki Bhambri backs rising tennis star

Since the last US Open, where he lost to Roger Federer, Sumit Nagal has moved up 66 places in the world rankings.

By Subhayan Dutta

Former India No. 1 Yuki Bhambri believes 23-year-old Sumit Nagal, who became the first Indian in seven years to win a singles round in a Grand Slam, has time on his side to achieve international tennis excellence.

Sumit Nagal defeated USA’s Bradley Klahn in the opening round of the US Open and became the first Indian men’s singles player to reach the second round of a Grand Slam in seven years. Nagal’s US Open ended there after he went down fighting against world No. 3 Dominic Thiem.

Nagal has been steadily making his mark in international tennis. Last month, Sumit Nagal had taken a set off three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka in their quarter-final clash at the Prague Open before bowing out.

When he took a set off tennis legend Roger Federer at the US Open last year, Nagal was 190 in the world. 

The current India No. 1 is now ranked 124, improving 66 places at a time when the world of sports has been hit by the COVID pandemic.

"Sumit Nagal deserves it all,” Yuki Bhambri told the Olympic Channel. “He has done well to win the first round at the US Open and I hope he builds on that momentum. 

“I don't know if he had a very good junior career but he is definitely moving in the right direction. Nagal has moved up in the rankings and more importantly, he has a lot of time in hand to excel. 

“He has a good team of coaches and staff working alongside him and with the right support, I believe he has a bright future,” Bhambri added. 

Nagal has Mahesh Bhupathi as his mentor.

Yuki Bhambri is set to make a comeback at the ATP 250 event in Singapore

Apart from the US Open high, Sumit Nagal has also maintained India’s regular participation at the Grand Slams – ATP’s biggest event - and Bhambri believes it bodes well for Indian tennis.

“It's important to have an Indian representing the country at the Grand Slam consistently,” the 28-year-old Bhambri pointed out.

“This year it is Sumit, last year it was Prajnesh Gunneswaran. The year before it was me and before me it was Somdev Devvarman."

"Indians have the capability to do a lot better on the international stage, we just have to grab the opportunities that we get," Yuki Bhambri added.

Bhambri, however, hasn’t played a professional match in the last two years since he tore his tendon on the right knee at the Antwerp Open in 2018.

After a successful diagnosis and surgery on his right knee, Bhambri’s rehabilitation was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Delhi athlete, though, is planning to return in January next year.

"I am planning to start travelling and competing from the Australian Open next year if everything is permitted,” Yuki Bhambri said.

"At the moment I will practice in India only as the French Open isn’t a priority for me," he said.


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