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Explained: Why Sumit Nagal's first-round win in Australian Open 2024 holds so much significance

Published at :January 16, 2024 at 10:54 PM
Modified at :January 30, 2024 at 7:41 PM
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(Courtesy : PTI)

Ajay Gandhar

Nagal reached Australian Open second round for first time.

In a historic win, Sumit Nagal, India’s top men’s tennis player, defeated Alexander Bublik, the 31st seed and World No.27, in the first round of the Australian Open 2024. Nagal, who qualified for the main draw, took the first set 6-4 and dominated the second set 6-2.

Bublik fought back in the third set, but Nagal held his nerve and won the tiebreak 7-6 (5). The Indian ranked 137th in the world, moved to the second round with a stunning straight-sets victory.

Nagal qualified for the Australian Open main draw by defeating Alex Molcan of Slovakia in the final round of the qualifiers last week. He is ranked 137th in the world in singles and this is his second time playing in the first Grand Slam of the season, having also participated in 2021.

However, he lost in the first round to Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 that year. He is the only Indian to reach the main draw of the singles event since then.

Here is what Sumit Nagal achieved with this win, have a look!

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First Indian male in 35 years to beat a seeded player at a Grand Slam

Nagal’s win over Bublik was not only the biggest win of his career, but also a historic moment for Indian tennis. He became the first Indian male player in 35 years to beat a seeded player at a Grand Slam singles draw, matching Ramesh Krishnan’s feat in ousting defending champion Mats Wilander at Melbourne Park in 1989. Nagal is also only the fifth Indian men’s singles player to reach the second round of the Australian Open singles competition.

Only third Indian since 2000 to win at Australian Open

Nagal’s victory also made him the only third Indian player since 2000 to win a match at the Australian Open singles event. The previous two were Leander Paes, who reached the third round in 2000, and Somdev Devvarman, who reached the second round in 2013. Nagal had qualified for the main draw of the Australian Open in 2021 but lost in the first round to Ricardas Berankis.

Remains only Indian man to win in a Grand Slam main draw since 2013

Nagal has been the lone flag-bearer for Indian men’s singles tennis in the Grand Slam arena since 2013. He remains the only Indian man to win a match in the main draw of a Grand Slam since 2013 when Devvarman reached the second round of the US Open. Nagal made his Grand Slam debut at the 2019 US Open, where he took a set off Roger Federer in the first round but lost the match. He then qualified for the 2020 US Open, where he reached the second round, but lost to eventual champion Dominic Thiem.

Did not drop a single set in four grueling matches at Australian Open 2024

Nagal’s impressive run at the Australian Open 2024 was not a fluke, but a result of hard work and perseverance. He had to win three matches in the qualifying round to secure his spot in the main draw. He did not drop a single set in his four matches, beating Geoffrey Blancaneaux, Edward Winter, Alex Molcan, and Bublik. He showed remarkable composure and resilience, especially in the third-set tiebreak against Bublik, where he held his nerve to seal the match.

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