India’s Sumit Nagal was at his clinical best in a 6-4, 6-4 round of 32 victory over local hope Giulio Zeppieri at the ATP 125 Challenger tournament in Parma, Italy on Monday.
Nagal, the highest-ranked Indian tennis player on the ATP Tour (No. 127), had become the first Indian to win a Grand Slam singles match in seven years at the US Open before falling to eventual champion Dominic Thiem last month.
He was unable to make it to the main draw of the French Open singles and endured a first-round exit at the Biella Challenger last week. However, Nagal brushed aside his apparent loss of form in Parma.
Nagal went on the offensive in the first game of the match, pressuring Zeppieri on the latter’s serve, earning four break points and finally converting the last one to take a 1-0 advantage in the opening set.
Nagal then broke Zeppieri again in the fifth game to take a 4-1 lead but allowed his opponent a comeback by losing serve in the very next game.
There were no other breaks for the rest of the set as the 23-year-old Nagal took the first set 6-4.
Nagal broke his opponent again in the opening game of the second set to grab the early advantage and this time, held his own serves to comfortably win the set 6-4 and wrap up the win.
Nagal will now face Serbian third seed Laslo Dere for a spot in the quarters on Wednesday.
Prajnesh Gunneswaran out
Meanwhile, the other Indian at the ATP 125 Parma Challenger, Prajnesh Gunneswaran suffered a 7-6, 6-2 loss to another local boy Paolo Lorenzi in the Round of 32.
Both Gunneswaran and Lorenzi looked shaky on their serves, giving the other multiple chances of a break throughout the opening set but neither of them was sharp enough to take advantage.
However, Gunneswaran attacked Lorenzi’s serve in the ninth game of the first set, winning a crucial break to go up 5-4 and had a chance to serve out the set. However, the Indian was broken back and then went on to lose the tie-breaker to lose the opening set.
Gunneswaran lost serve twice in three games in the second set and though he earned one back, the 132nd-ranked Indian was unable to penetrate through Lorenzi’s serves for the rest of the set.
Prajnesh Gunneswaran was then broken again in the seventh game and though he fought hard in the next, could not prevent Lorenzi from serving out the match.
However, Gunneswaran’s Parma sojourn is not over yet as he has teamed up with Kamil Majchrzak. The duo will begin their doubles campaign on Wednesday.