Albert Ramos-Vinolas had a career-high ranking of 17 two years back and was ranked 101 while facing Sumit Nagal. Beating the Spaniard in clay was always going to be a tough task for the relatively inexperienced Indian with a rank of 204. But, on June 14, Sumit pipped him 7-5, 7-6 in a neck-wracking encounter in the semi-finals of Lyon Challenger. Six days later, Sumit got the better of another player who breached the top 25 in his prime- Martin Klizan, overcoming the Slovakian 1-6, 6-1, 7-6 in the quarter-finals of Bratislava Challenger.
ATP € 92K+H Lyon Challenger 2019, France[QF] Sumit Nagal (IND,272) beat (1) Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP,101) 7-5…
“The win over those two guys this summer were definitely my biggest singles’ victory so far in my career. Both of them were great players and ex top-25. Those matches were high intensity one. But, I controlled my emotions and played well. The most important thing in these situations is to enjoy your time there,” said Sumit referring to the aforementioned two victories.
Reaching the semi-finals of these two Challenger tournaments alongside the one in Milan in June meant by the end of the month, Sumit broke into the top 200 for the first time in his career. “I can plan accordingly now as I know I will get into most of the tournaments. It helps you financially as well as you are going to start playing bigger tournaments where the reward is even bigger,” said the aggressive right-hander who began the year with an ATP ranking of 361.
Sumit left his home at the tender age of 10 to be a part of Mahesh Bhupathi’s Apollo Tyres Mission 2018 Programme. Two years later, he shifted his base to Canada. Looking back, the 21-year-old shows no signs of regret as it taught him a lot of things both on and off the field.
“The experience was amazing. It was the best decision ever made in my life. That’s where I improved the most. When I left India, I remember I was very average. But, a year later when I came back, I won 7 out of 8 tournaments in a row. I got very matured as I lived alone.”
Sumit hogged the limelight in 2015 when he became the sixth Indian to clinch a Grand Slam junior title after winning the Wimbledon’s boys doubles title. However, the Haryana-born never took it as a crowning point in his career. He said, “To be honest, I was happy for a good moment. It is always nice to win tournaments but then once you start believing you start chasing bigger tournaments and that is what I have been doing since then.” Sumit will, however, not be a part of India’s upcoming Davis Cup tie against Pakistan to be played at the latter’s home, owing to an injury he suffered while participating at the Hamburg Open in Germany.
“I believe the Indian team will do well and bring home the win. Unfortunately, I won’t be joining them this time but will be cheering for them. I am not actually sure when I am going to be fully fit. It takes time to heal and can take a few months.”
Sumit was knocked out in the first round of the Qualifiers of the 2018 Wimbledon, French Open, and Australian Open. But, having attained the goal of breaking into the top 200 of ATP rankings, he has set his eye on making it to the main draw. “I am pushing to make the main draw for a (Grand) Slam. For youngsters who want to make it big in the world of tennis, my advice would be to work hard and smart at the same time. Also, find balance in life,” he signs off.