India’s Sumit Nagal will face Lithuanian tennis player Ricardas Berankis in the first round of the Australian Open, which begins in Melbourne from February 8.
Sumit Nagal is currently the world No. 139 in ATP men’s singles rankings while Berankis is ranked 72nd.
Interestingly, Nagal played Ricardas Berankis at the Murray River Open earlier this week in what was his first competitive match in three months. The Lithuanian won 6-2, 6-2.
Sumit Nagal, who got a wild card entry to the event, is India’s only men’s singles representative at the Australian Open 2021. This will also be his first foray at the Australian major’s main draw after failing to make it through the qualifying rounds in 2018 and 2020.
The Australian Open 2021 will be Nagal’s third Grand Slam. The 23-year-old Indian tennis player made a lasting impression at his debut Slam in the 2019 US Open, taking a set off tennis great Roger Federer.
Last year, Sumit Nagal returned to the Flushing Meadows to win his opening match and become the first Indian since Somdev Devvarman to win a Grand Slam singles match.
In the second round, Nagal was ousted but not before giving a good account himself and pushing the then-world No. 3 Dominic Thiem hard in the second-round clash.
If Nagal gets past his first hurdle, he will either face Russia's Karen Khachanov - current world No. 20 - or Australia's Aleksandar Vukic in the second round.
Tennis Australia – the organisers of the tournament – conducted the official draws for the first Grand Slam event of 2021 on Friday. The draw was originally set to be held on Thursday but was moved back after a worker at one of the Melbourne hotels used to quarantine players tested positive for COVID-19.
Doubles specialist Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan will be the other Indians at this year’s Australian Open. The doubles draws, however, will be announced later.
Women’s singles player Ankita Raina, who reached the third round of the Australian Open 2021 qualifiers, is in Melbourne as a lucky loser but didn’t feature in the women’s singles draw.