The first Indian tennis singles player in seven years to win a Grand Slam round will be up against the world No. 3 in the second round at the US Open.
First-time Grand Slam match-winner Sumit Nagal will face an uphill task when he goes up against Dominic Thiem in the second round of the US Open but the Indian tennis player remains unfazed by the challenge.
The Haryana-lad created history by becoming only the second Indian, since Somdev Devvarman in 2013, to advance into the second round at the Flushing Meadows after he defeated USA’s Bradley Klahn on Tuesday.
Sumit Nagal, ranked 124, will meet on Thursday world No. 3 Dominic Thiem, who saw Spain’s Jaume Munar retire midway with an injury in his opening round match.
"I am ready and excited to play him,” Sumit Nagal told PTI. “It's going to be fun and (I will) see where I stand in terms of my tennis level.”
While Sumit Nagal’s last match on hard court was at the ATP Challenger event in Pau, France in February, Dominic Thiem has played only one match at the Cincinnati Masters before coming to the US Open.
Sumit Nagal believes the lack of adequate preparation ahead of the US Open levels the playing field in their second-round showdown.
“I don’t think we’ve had enough match practice on hard courts,” Nagal told Reuters. “It’s going to be the same for both of us for the match on Thursday.”
However, Sumit Nagal fancies his underdog status against top-ranked opponents and it will be in play again when he faces Dominic Thiem.
Last year at the US Open, Sumit Nagal took a set off former world No. 1 Roger Federer. He repeated the feat against Federer’s compatriot and 15th-ranked Stan Wawrinka at the Prague Challengers last month.
“I’ve got nothing to lose,” the top-ranked Indian tennis player said. “Last year I played Roger Federer and this year Thiem. It is going to be a great match.
“For sure, I’m not the favourite,” the 23-year-old Nagal pointed out, underplaying his chances.
Nagal was, however, favourite against Bradley Klahn in the opening round, who ranks five places lower than the Indian.
But Nagal admitted that he had the nerves going into the match and did just enough to keep his composure.
“It was not easy,” he said. “I [still] needed four sets. I played a tournament before coming here (Prague Challenger) while he hadn't, and that made the difference.
“I thought I played pretty smart tennis and the result is there [to show],” Nagal said.