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Saturday, December 03 2022

Olympics: Nagal carries India’s hope in men’s singles tennis

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Tokyo: India’s challenge in men’s tennis singles at the Olympic Games will be carried by 23-year-old Sumit Nagal, who made it to Tokyo Olympics thanks to withdrawal of some players.

The ace Indian tennis player in men’s singles was ranked 144 when the cut-off date for qualification was applied on June 14.

As of July 19, Nagal has dropped to 160 in ATP rankings and while he is not favourite to win the title, an Indian playing in the singles competition is in itself an achievement considering that no Indian made it to Rio Olympics in that category.

Somdev Devvarman and Vishnu Vardhan had competed at the London Olympics in 2012.

Nagal, who boasts of a prize money of $156,965 this year, has an inferior win-loss record on the ATP circuit. He has lost six matches and won only two games.

With the likes of Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev among others, one will have to be too optimistic to expect a medal from the Indian. But the experience of playing in Tokyo will be as good as playing in any main draw of a Grand Slam event.

The occasion wasn’t lost on Nagal, who tweeted just after he learnt of his qualification: “No words can express my emotions. A surreal feeling to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Grateful to all your support and wishes.”

Nagal’s professional record this year – including ITF, ATP and Davis Cup matches – has been mixed. He has won 51% of the matches, winning 18 and losing 17. He has lost both his matches this year on hard-court, which is the surface at Tokyo.

Nagal, who has also captured ATP Challenger Tour titles in 2017 in Bangalore and 2019 in Buenos Aires, had achieved career-high ranking of 122 on August 24, 2020.

He, however, became more known for taking a set off Roger Federer on his Grand Slam debut in the first round of the 2019 US Open.

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