Sumit Nagal defeats Istomin, becomes the first Indian in seven years to win a main draw match
Nagal outclassed Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 in the men's singles first round on Saturday. He will now face second seed Dominic Thiem in the second round of the US Open on Thursday.
In this unusual US Open during the time of the pandemic, no longer are you allowed to shake hands with the umpire, it’s either a wave or you tap the umpire’s shoe with your racquet. The chair umpire dutifully extended her foot, Nagal, still in disbelief, didn’t notice and lifted his racquet up to her.
The first time he had played in the main draw of a Grand Slam was last year at the US Open. Despite the loss against Roger Federer, he had enhanced his reputation on the circuit as a fighter. The first set between Nagal and Istomin was a closely fought affair and neither one of them was giving an inch. However, Nagal was able to make the break at crucial junctures and as a result, he won the first set 6-4. The 23-year-old carried on with his momentum in the second set, and he upped his game a notch, not giving Istomin an inch.
Nagal had a comfortable lead in the second set and it was looking he would wrap up the match in a jiffy, but Istomin made a comeback and the second set was brought level at 6-6. Istomin continued with his momentum and he went on to take the second set 7-6, sending the match into the third and deciding set. On Monday, in his second first round at the major, there was much more in store. Barring a solitary glitch in the third set, the 23-year-old played a steady brand of tennis to notch up a 6-1, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 win against American Bradley Klahn, a former world no 63.
Nagal was the fitter player of the two as well, covering 721 feet more through the match than Klahn. The American, currently ranked 129, also needed a medical timeout for a back issue after the second set. That arguably gave him some time to recover – both physically and mentally – as he started to keep more balls in play and move his opponent around.
Nagal won the third set 6-4, and as a result, he progressed to the next round.