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Sumit Nagal recalls sleepless night before facing Roger Federer

Surprising with his skills, Sumit Nagal had pulled off quite the shocker against Roger Federer at the 2019 US Open - Nagal recalls the sleeplessness, jitters before it.

Sumit Nagal faced-off against 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer at the 2019 US Open

Sumit Nagal faced-off against 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer at the 2019 US Open


Sohinee Basu

Updated: 27 Dec 2021 10:13 AM GMT

The unthinkable had happened once upon a summer night at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows during the first round of the 2019 US Open in late August. Someone with a name dangerously similar to that of Roger Federer's arch-nemesis Rafael Nadal was out there playing the Swiss great under the twinkling lights of New York City - this man, one Sumit Nagal, was also doing surprise things to Federer, making him break into an early sweat.

The Indian, then 22, had just qualified for his first-ever Grand Slam main draw and he was up against Roger Federer - talk about facing the Everest on your first day at mountaineering camp, Nagal was tasked with a behemoth job and to the surprise of everyone, including that of the 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, Sumit Nagal managed to ruffle quite a few feathers.

Much before Sumit Nagal stepped out on the court to face Roger Federer though, he had just spent countless hours being sleepless, his eyes refusing to close, no wink of sleep in them - the excitement, joy and the whole adrenaline rush of getting to face the legend himself - what can Sumit do to trouble the man with whom tennis is synonymous? Can he take off a set? Can he put pressure on him? So many questions, he could not wait to get on the court to get some answers.

"Everything was coming back to me, day by day, from the past 12 years of my life. I could barely sleep before I played Federer," Sumit Nagal revealed, according to Tennis World USA. "I started to think about my first tennis steps, all the travel, how early I used to wake up, and all those times I lived alone," the whole montage playing out in front of his eyes.

Sumit Nagal (Source: Getty)

The first set was surreal for the Indian tennis sensation. Roger got off to a slow and tardy start and Nagal, all sprightly, backed by a sensational 2019 run made a dash for it and caught Roger off-guard, converting the break point opportunities Federer handed him aplenty and took the first set off Federer, 6-4. Nagal had won the first set against Roger Federer at the US Open - an Indian tennis player was leading the match, let that sink in. Soon, Federer snapped out and did what was anyway going to be done - as he steered the match towards a clean finish in two and a half hours, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 to sail on.

It has been a couple of years since that occasion but for Sumit Nagal, every time he still thinks back he considers that US Open match to be extremely special, as Tennis World USA mentions.

"There are moments where I know tennis holds a place in my heart, and the 2019 US Open was one of them," he gladly admits.

"I know I complain a lot, but I deal with it. I go back to my home in Delhi and have no friends there; that's just a small part. I work hard to make sure my parents' hard work isn't wasted, as they sacrificed so much," Sumit Nagal reflects.

Also having made his Olympics debut at Tokyo this year, Nagal has always been hailed as the next-big-thing in Indian tennis. "I want to give back to them, for the time and money they put into me. Everyone's mind wonders about the possibilities; it's just a matter of how you change them from negative to positive," Nagal mentioned, looking ahead to a good 2022 season now.

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