Sumit Nagal registers biggest win of career, beats world No.22
- The 23-year-old Indian earned the biggest victory of his career thus far, defeating world No. 22 and second seed Chilean Cristian Garin 6-4, 6-3 in the second round of the ATP 250 Argentina Open.
Two Saturdays ago, Sumit Nagal crashed out in the first qualifying round of the ATP Cordoba Open after losing to 396th-ranked Argentine Facundo Diaz Acosta. It was Nagal’s first tournament back on his favoured clay courts since October last year. In February, he had lost in the opening round at the Australian Open.
A week after Cordoba, he was again made to sweat on the dirt of Buenos Aires, forced to dig out long, three-set wins in two of the three qualifiers.
On Thursday, though, the 23-year-old Indian earned the biggest victory of his career thus far, defeating world No. 22 and second seed Chilean Cristian Garin 6-4, 6-3 in the second round of the ATP 250 Argentina Open. This was Nagal’s maiden win against a top-50 player; his previous best result was beating Martin Klizan, then No. 56 in the world, at the ATP Bratislava Challenger in June 2019. Nagal will take on world No. 46 Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the quarter-finals on Friday, having beaten the Spaniard in the 2019 Lyon Challenger quarters.
"I felt like I needed this win," Nagal said on Thursday. "It definitely means a lot. I am enjoying being on the court and I am happy with the amount of matches I am getting to play here."
Mahesh Bhupathi, Nagal's mentor from his early days, termed the win against Garin as "huge" for the youngster. “It’s the biggest stepping stone in his career. This will give him a lot of confidence. He has won five matches in a row now, and hopefully he can keep going. Still, it’s been a great week,” Bhupathi said.
That Nagal feels more at home on clay was on display against Garin, and in his first-round 6-2, 6-0 win against 100th-ranked Brazilian Joao Sousa. On Thursday, Nagal troubled the Chilean with his quality forehand from the baseline, but crucially won more points on his second serve--56% compared to Garin's 32%. Both players had break chances aplenty, with Nagal converting seven out of his 19 looks on the Garin serve.
Bhupathi felt Nagal’s decision to switch to clay after just two matches on the hard courts of Melbourne to start the season proved right. “He made a conscious effort to play in Argentina, because clay is his favourite surface. The fact that he’s got matches under his belt with the clay-court season coming up, it’s a great situation for him to be in,” he said.