New York: Sumit Nagal became the first Indian to win a singles match in a Grand Slam tournament in the last 7 years, defeating America’s Bradley Klahn in the first round of the US Open tennis tournament. In the second round, they will compete against the World No.3 Dominic theme. Nagle, who won a set against Roger Federer last year at Flushing Meadows, beat local player Klahn 6–1, 6–3, 3–6, 6–1 in a match that lasted two hours and 12 minutes on Tuesday night. Only one place ahead of Nagal in the Klahn World Rankings is at number 126.
Earlier Somdev Devvarman was the last Indian to win a singles match of the main draw of a Grand Slam. He also entered the US Open in 2013 as a qualifier and defeated Slovakia’s, Lukas Lacko. Nagal told PTI-language, ‘I qualified for the junior category here in 2013 and later managed to make it to the main draw of the men’s category. Now I won the first round which means a lot to me. I am enjoying playing here and on some occasions, I get the benefit from it.’
He said, ‘Knowing that you are a contender for victory in this match, it was not easy to go to court. I was definitely nervous and playing for my first win at Grand Slam but I did what I should have done and maintained my self-control.’
Somdev, who retired in January 2017, reached the second round of the Australian Open, French Open and US Open in 2013. He played in Wimbledon 2011 also in the second round but never progressed beyond this. Somdev was followed by players like Yuki Bhambri, Ramkumar Ramanathan and Prajnesh Gunneswaran in Indian tennis but none of them managed to win the main draw.
Ramkumar could not make it to the main draw despite several attempts. Saket Myneni made it to the main draw of the US Open in 2016 but lost to Jiri Wesley of the Czech Republic. Bhambri also struggled with injuries. He played in all the Grand Slams between 2015 and 2018 but never progressed from the first round. Nagal said that Indian tennis should have done better and blamed the system for this which does not help much.
The 23-year-old player said, “Yes, I am happy with this win but if we see the other side, we could have done better than this. Many of our players are in this game, we have talent but there is no system that makes me sad. ‘Nagal will next face Austria’s top player and the second-seeded theme here. He made it to the next round due to his Spanish rival Jaume Munar being eliminated from the match before the third set started.”
Munar suffered a knee injury during the second set and was leading 7-6 (6) 6-3 when he withdrew from the match. Nagal, who never gave up, said that he will present a tough challenge to the world’s No. 3 player. He said, ‘I am ready and excited to play against him. I will also enjoy this match. This will give me an opportunity to assess whether I am currently in a position in terms of tennis level.’