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French Open 2024

'If he plays really well, he could give himself a chance,' Somdev Devvarman weighs in on Sumit Nagal's difficult first round match against Karen Khachanov

Published at :May 25, 2024 at 8:46 PM
Modified at :May 25, 2024 at 8:46 PM
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(Courtesy : @IndTennisDaily/X)

Ajay Gandhar

Sumit Nagal became the first Indian male player to qualify for French Open main draw since 2019.

India’s top-ranked singles player Sumit Nagal will have his work cut out for him when he takes on World No. 18 Karen Khachanov of Russia in the opening round of the French Open 2024 on Sunday in Paris.

Nagal, currently ranked 94th, earned direct entry into the main draw of the clay court Grand Slam on the back of some consistent results on tour this season. The 26-year-old became the first Indian male player to qualify for the French Open main draw since Prajnesh Gunneswaran in 2019.

However, Nagal has been struggling for form heading into Roland-Garros. He suffered third round exits at the Monte-Carlo Masters and Geneva Open, along with a first round loss at the Bordeaux Challenger earlier this month.

On the other side of the net, Khachanov arrives in Paris having enjoyed an impressive 2024 campaign so far. The Russian won the Qatar Open ATP 250 event in February. Russian has compiled a 21-7 win-loss record at the French Open, and Russian reached the quarterfinals at the French Open last year.

“Let’s be honest, Karen Khachanov is one of the toughest draws out there,” said former Indian player Somdev Devvarman in his assessment of the first round match-up. “World No. 18, he has been one of the most consistent players on tour and has reached some major semi-finals as well. He has very few flaws – good from the baseline, good on serve.”

Despite the daunting challenge, Devvarman feels Nagal should back himself to pull off an upset if he can raise his game.

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“Sumit has been around long enough in terms of expectations and dealing with them,” Devvarman stated. “He’s 26-years-old, in the prime of his career physically and had a good run this year breaking into the top 100. He must be feeling good about his chances.”

“I would love to see Sumit put up a fight and if he plays really well, he could give himself a chance to turn over Khachanov,” the former Indian No. 1 added.

Nagal was spotted practicing with Novak Djokovic in Geneva recently as he aimed to find his best level ahead of the French Open. He will need to produce some of his finest tennis to have a chance against the big-serving, aggressive baseliner Khachanov in their third career meeting.

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