Gritty Sumit Nagal goes down to Stan Wawrinka in Prague Open
World number 17 wins quarter-final clash despite losing first set to top Indian men's player at ATP Challenger event
Despite an early flourish, India’s top-ranked men’s singles tennis player Sumit Nagal bowed out of the Prague Open after a 6-2, 0-6, 1-6 quarter-final loss to three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka on Thursday.
Sumit Nagal was off to a dream start, outplaying the much experienced Wawrinka in the opening set, but the Swiss ace, playing his first ATP Challenger event in 10 years, turned the tables in the second to comfortably advance to the semi-finals.
The Indian, ranked No. 127 in the world, broke Wawrinka in the very first game of the first set after the Swiss made two double faults. Nagal stayed strong with his serves and broke his opponent yet again in the 7th game to take a 5-2 lead.
Wawrinka managed to save a couple of set points in the eighth but was finally outdone by Nagal’s baseline game as the Indian took the first set 6-2.
It was the second time the 23-year-old Nagal had taken a set off of one of the big names in world tennis in his short career. He had done the same against the legendary Roger Federer at the 2019 US Open, with Nagal also preparing to take part in the 2020 edition at Flushing Meadows at the end of the month.
Wawrinka, however, bounced back in the second set and broke Nagal’s serve in the second game to take the early initiative.
Having cut down on the unforced errors which had cost him dearly in the first set, the 2008 Olympic doubles champion raced to a 4-0 lead.
Despite Nagal’s best efforts, world No. 17 Wawrinka was relentless in his approach and closed out the second set 6-0, to level things up.
In the decider, Wawrinka broke Nagal’s serve again in the second game and continued to have an upper hand on the youngster.
Nagal did manage to take the sixth game of the final set but it eventually ended 6-1 in favour of the Swiss star.
This was the first time the two players have ever met on the pro circuit.
India's doubles challenge ends
Sumit Nagal's Prague trip came to an end later in the day as he exited the men's doubles with partner Ilya Ivashka. The Indo-Belarusian pair fell 2-6, 4-6 to French duo Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Arthur Rinderknech in the quarter-finals.
Nagal's experienced compatriot and top seed Divij Sharan and Dutch partner Robin Haase meanwhile were also knocked out in the last eight after a 3-6, 6-7 loss to Jiri Lehecka and Tomas Machac.
N Sriram Balaji and his Belgian partner Kimmer Coppejans had been eliminated from the doubles after a 4-6, 3-6 defeat to Canadian Steven Diez and Slovenian Blaz Rola earlier in the day.