Sumit Nagal makes a winning return to tennis
Nagal is the first Indian to return to competitive tennis during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The highest-ranked Indian tennis player on the ATP circuit, Sumit Nagal made a memorable return to court as he won the PSD Bank Nord Open in Germany.
The 127th ranked Indian beat home hope Daniel Masur 6-1, 6-3 at the local clay-court tournament at the Pinneberg Tennis Club.
"It felt good to be out there after almost four months," Sumit Nagal told ESPN from his home in the town of Peine in northern Germany.
The Indian tennis player, who trains at the Nensel Tennis Academy, had stayed back in Germany due to the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdown, and decided to return to the court considering the proximity of the event, a two-hour ride from where he resides.
"Just to be in a tournament at this point was both unreal and great. It was a small, nice event with under 60 players and not too far from where I train,” added Sumit Nagal.
He became only the second Indian after equestrian rider Fouaad Mirza, who is also in Germany, to compete in a tournament during the coronavirus pandemic.
Organizers of the PSD Bank Nord Open ensured that all the safety and health protocols recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) - regular temperature checks, hand sanitization and social distancing – were strictly followed.
“Everyone had to stay at least two metres away from each other. It's something you had to keep reminding yourself just like the frequent hand sanitising,” explained the Indian tennis ace.
“Also, only two players were allowed to use the locker room at a time. Since it was a small tournament these aspects were a lot more easily manageable.”
Sumit Nagal returned to the court earlier than other Indian tennis players back home, and his European base allows him a better chance of playing in more tournaments as the international sporting calendar gradually opens up.
The ATP Tour is set to resume on August 14 with the Citi Open in Washington, USA. The US Open, a tournament where Sumit Nagal first made waves last year against the legendary Roger Federer, has been planned as the first Grand Slam to return since the season was halted.