I try to follow what Rafael Nadal once said: Go on a court, make conditions tougher and fight hard for every point.
Number of medals
0 Olympic medals
0 Olympic Games
Sumit Nagal biography
Sumit Nagal is undoubtedly one of the rising stars of Indian tennis.
Having turned pro in 2015, the Indian tennis player has shown a steady rise with his biggest achievement coming in 2020, a year devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the 2020 US Open, Sumit Nagal became the first Indian to win a main draw match in the singles event of a Grand Slam in seven years. His opening-round win against American Bradley Klahn was the first for an Indian since Somdev Devvarman beat Slovakian Lukáš Lacko at the 2013 US Open.
Though he lost the following round tie to the eventual champion Dominic Thiem of Austria, Sumit Nagal made an impression with his groundstrokes and persistent retrieving skills that had the world No. 3 stop and applaud.
Sumit Nagal’s show in 2020 came on the back of a spirited debut at Flushing Meadows where he lined-up against the greatest player of this generation, Roger Federer, in the opening round of the 2019 US Open.
While not much was expected from the Indian, Sumit Nagal surprised many with his fearless brand of tennis and matched Federer shot-for-shot to take on the opening set before bowing out.
“It's never easy to come out and play your best. Even though it's kind of what you live for, you dream about, playing on the big stage. I think he did that very well,” Roger Federer said about his young opponent in the post-match interview.
The 2019 season was special for Sumit Nagal for more reasons than one. While his Grand Slam debut was the highlight, the year also saw him become the first Indian to win an ATP Challenger in South America with a title at the Challenger de Buenos Aires.
The New Delhi-based player also ended the season with eight semi-final appearances in the ATP Challenger circuit, the most by a player in a season.
His quality performances in 2019 and the initial half of the following year came in handy as Nagal climbed to the 122nd spot on the rankings charts to become the top-ranked Indian on the ATP Tour in 2020.
Interestingly, Sumit Nagal loved only cricket while growing up. It wasn’t until his dad, a school teacher, took him to a court near his house in North-West Delhi that Nagal junior got the first glimpse of tennis.
“Though I am a big cricket fan, my father always wanted me to play an individual sport. That’s how it started,” Sumit Nagal told the Olympic Channel.
The youngster was eight when he got his first lessons in tennis. Soon, Nagal joined a local academy before being recruited by Mahesh Bhupathi for his ambitious ‘Apollo Mission 2018’ project in 2008. The project aimed at producing India’s first-ever Grand Slam singles champion by 2018.
Sumit Nagal trained at Bhupathi’s centre for two years and then moved to Toronto to continue his programme under Canadian coach Bobby Mahal. The move proved to be fruitful as the Indian tennis player clinched the U-16 National Championships as a 13-year-old in 2011.
Sumit Nagal’s first major international success came at the 2015 Wimbledon, where he partnered Vietnam’s Lý Hoàng Nam to win the boys’ doubles title. The title win was the sixth by an Indian at a junior Grand Slam.
The success also saw Sumit Nagal make the Indian Davis Cup team the following year. He was included as a replacement for the injured Rohan Bopanna for the 2016 Davis Cup play-off tie against Spain.
Playing at his home court, the RK Khanna Tennis Stadium in New Delhi, Sumit Nagal put up a brave show but came up short against Marc Lopez in the first reverse singles.
That loss aside, the Indian tennis player continued his development and soon was in the news when he clinched his first ATP Challenger title a year later in Bengaluru.
At the Bengaluru event, Sumit Nagal beat the then top-100 player and top seed Blaz Kavcic in the quarter-finals, compatriot Yuki Bhambri in the semis and Briton Jay Clarke in the final.
Having built on his game with every passing season, Sumit Nagal will look to climb greater heights in years to come.