BENGALURU: The last edition of the Bengaluru Challenger brought Delhi youngster Sumit Nagal into the limelight. He beat Great Britain’s Jay Clarke in the final to shoot to fame and climbed up 96 places in the ATP rankings. Nagal, who reached a career-best ranking of 213 in April, played in a maiden Slam (albeit the qualifers) at the Australian Open.
Since then, it has been a downward spiral. Apart from the Marbella Challenger in Spain and Aon Open Challenger in Italy, Nagal failed to progress beyond the Round of 32 in the entire year. So what went wrong? The 21-year-old feels his association with Javier Ferrer, his previous coach, hasn’t gone well. “I was with a different team last year. In February, I started working with Ferrer Tennis Academy. It was a new venture and it didn’t work too well. My whole summer went in sorting that out, trying to figure out things,” Nagal said. “I was also going through shoulder problems and there were weeks when I wasn’t fit but because I wanted to break into top 200, I kept pushing”
On Monday, he came back a full circle. A wild card entrant, Nagal met seventh seed Clarke again. This time he prevailed — only the the third time he has managed to win a main draw match at the Challenger level this year — a 6-4, 7-5 winner at the KSLTA courts.
Nagal, despite suffering from mild fever, was more determined and focused to take the tie away from Clarke. The 21-year-old began the match on a bright note, breaking Clarke in the third game. But he was left frustrated as his backhands repeatedly went out of bounds. And he was broken back in the sixth game. That has been the case for Nagal throughout the year, lacking consistency and paying the price. Not on Monday.
“If you see a lot of my past matches, I have been a set and a break up in the second set and somehow I lose the second and then the third set. Today (Monday) I won the first and was a break up in the second and he broke me back. At that stage, I told myself ‘come on man, this time you have got to do it’. I kept focusing on myself. I am happy and this has been the most important thing that I have been working on,” Nagal said.
The youngster, who now sits at 309, is raring to go again. He is working with a different trainer now. “I am working with a fitness trainer, Milos Galecis, from Serbia. It’s working well now and I have started to enjoy my tennis again. It wasn’t the case in the summer. But, I won’t be setting any goals now as I want to get fit & keep competing,” Nagal said. email@example.com
Sumit Nagal bt Jay Clarke (7, GBR) 6-4, 7-5; Aleksandr Nedovyesov (KAZ) bt Scott Griekspoor (NED) 6-3, 6-2; Marc Polmans (5, AUS) bt Maverick Banes (AUS) 1-6, 6-4, 6-2; Ilkel Cem (TUR) bt Marco Trungelliti (2, ARG) 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (3)
M Purcell & L Saville (AUS) bt Chandril Sood & Lakshit Sood 6-2, 6-2; Prajwal Dev & Niki Poonacha bt Alexander Pavlioutchenkov (Rus) & Filip Peliwo (Can) 1-6, 7-6 (3), [10-2].