Tokyo Olympics: 25 years later, Sumit Nagal creates history in Indian tennis
Sumit Nagal ends the match-winning drought of Indian tennis players in singles by entering the second round of Men's Singles at the Tokyo Olympics.
A mould has been broken, as for the first time since 1996, an Indian player won a singles match at the Olympics. Sumit Nagal, the Indian No.2, defeated former World No. 33 player Denis Istomin in the first round of the Men's Singles at the Tokyo Olympics. Three sets played across 2 hours and 46 minutes decided the match in Sumit's favour.
Denis Istomin has had a forgetful season so far. Placed at No.197 in the rankings, the Uzbek has failed to win two consecutive main draw matches this year. However, Istomin has always enjoyed an Indian challenge, as before his match against Sumit today, he had a 19-6 win-loss record against Indian opponents across all tiers of the sport.
Nagal had lost four of the last five main draw matches that he had played. He had a career record of 1-1 against Uzbek players and faced Istomin for the first time in his career. The Indian took the first set 6-4, saving all three break points he faced in the set.
The second set was far more competitive. Istomin staged a comeback. Nagal took the early break, leading 2-0. But Istomin retrieved the break back and broke Nagal to edge ahead 4-3. Istomin served for the set at 5-4, but a resilient Nagal broke back to extend the set. A tiebreak was enforced and Istomin converted on his fourth set point to win the set.
In the decider, Istomin was broken at 4-5 and the 52nd minute of the set saw the match being sealed in Nagal's favour. Istomin hammered 17 aces and committed only 3 double faults. In complete contrast, Sumit didn't have the greatest serving day. He hit 8 aces to 9 double faults. Nagal's greatest strength was his ability to fend off break points against him. He saved 12 of the 14 break points he faced.
Sumit now faces an uphill task, as he faces World No.2 Daniil Medvedev in the next round. Medvedev defeated World No.40 Alexander Bublik in straight sets in the first round. Both Nagal and Medvedev will face each other for the first time.