In a performance that will not only influence generations to come but will forever be etched in India’s Sumit Nagal heart, he on Monday lost his first-ever Grand Slam match against the thoroughly-talented Roger Federer.
Playing at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, World No. 190 Nagal surely couldn’t have had done much against the blows of a five-time US Open Champion, but the accuracy he played with – taking a first set lead – gave us a glimpse of the sheer fighting spirit you need to home when going against the world’s greatest.
The 23-year-old Jhajjar-born player who had to qualify three tough rounds to enter the main draw, went down 6-4, 1-6, 2-6, 4-6 to Federer. However, not before winning $58,000, alongside experience he would carry for a lifetime.
The Indian impressively used court coverage and sent heavy shots at Roger for once ensuring he gets the best out of the 38 years old. The Swiss great woke from his slumber in time after losing 4-6 to Nagal in the first set.
“It was a tough first set for me. He played pretty strong so credit to him. I was missing a lot of balls so I was trying to cut down the unforced errors. Hopefully, it will get better,” said Federer. “I thought I played like my beard today, I was rusty, I’m going to clean it up for my next match,” he added.
Federer notably had 19 unforced errors, way less than Nagal (9) in the opener. The number had him gather his wits to only add to the woes of Nagal who played impressively throughout.
Federer, thereafter, served well taking the game away from Nagal after every ball he sent across the net. Nagal was still fighting, but Federer was always one step ahead in the second, third and fourth set.
After a pulsating two hours and 25 minutes game for Nagal, it was the moment when he shook the hand with Federer sucking inspiration between loud applause from the crowd, and ofc, Twitter.
After a long gap, the Krishnan era, his son Ramesh, Vijay and Leander before he shifted to doubles, a ray of hope in the gutsy Sumit Nagal. Terrific speed, strong forehand hold promise of better things in future.
— Pradeep Magazine (@pradeepmagazine) August 27, 2019
Midnight approaches and Roger Federer has come back to beat Indian qualifier Sumit Nagal 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. Nagal, who has come a long way in tennis with the odds heavily against him, can hold his head very high
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) August 27, 2019
— Naveen Jindal (@MPNaveenJindal) August 27, 2019
— umanandan mishra 🇮🇳 (@UmanandanKumar) August 27, 2019
This moment 😍😍😍😍…
Hopefully, this is just a start from young Sumit Nagal. pic.twitter.com/j1XPijvVlt
— Hari Priya CR (@cr_hariPriya) August 27, 2019
To mention, there were a lot of jokes going on around Nagal’s name that sounds like Rafael Nadal. Even the post-match presenter, citing the first set lead, asked Federer if he felt like he was playing against Nadal in the first set and not Nagal.
Sets won against Roger Federer at the #USOpen, an alphabetical index excerpt.
NADAL, Rafael – 0
NAGAL, Sumit – 1
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 27, 2019
Take a shot everytime they say “not nadal, but nagal”
— Tennys Sandgren (@TennysSandgren) August 27, 2019