The 22-year-old Sumit Nagal needed a couple of years to get himself together on the Challenger Tour and get the opportunity to crack the top-200. Sumit finally managed to check that task in May and June, reaching five semi-finals in seven events and finding himself in the top-200 for the first time after qualifying for the main draw at the ATP 500 event in Hamburg where he lost to Richard Gasquet in straight sets.
Taking some well-deserved rest, Sumit secured the first Grand Slam main draw appearance in New York, passing three qualifying rounds to book the place at the US Open where tennis gods brought him the one and only Roger Federer in the first round.
Facing the 20-time Grand Slam champion on packed Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday night, Nagal showed skills and determination to fight against the great opponent, winning the opening set before Roger took charge to prevail 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in two and a half hours.
Both players had 13 break chances and the Swiss made the difference with seven breaks, controlling the pace in sets two and three and surviving a tough game at 5-4 in the decider to cross the finish line and book the spot in the second round for the 19th time in New York from as many appearances.
As for Nagal, he showed some really good tennis in sets one and four, overcoming a slow start to take six of the last eight games in the opener and staying in touch with Roger in set number four after overcoming a 2-0 deficit, only to get broken again in game five that carried Roger over the top.
The Indian squandered four break points at 4-5 in the last set, missing the opportunity to prolong the encounter and put Federer under more pressure and enjoy the atmosphere on the Arthur Ashe Stadium a little bit more. "I haven't played too many tournaments this year and then qualifying for a Grand Slam after beating really good players, only to face Roger Federer in the first round and take a set out of him on the biggest tennis stadium.
I think I couldn't have asked for more. I was happy with my performance snd the way I competed at the event in general. I didn’t have too much time to practise on hardcourt because I felt pain in my ankle in Hamburg, taking a few weeks off and not coming to New York in the best shape.
Since then, I tried whatever I could to improve things and spend as much time on the court, fighting for every point. I think that’s what matters. Anything is possible in tennis, you do not know what is going to happen the next morning because you wake up and feel amazing and the other person can feel like it's his worst day ever.
You always have to keep trying, giving yourself an opportunity and you never know where you are going to end up. I got a text message from my coach saying you are playing Federer and I was so, so happy and I was like, “Yes!”.
Because when we saw the draw on Thursday and we saw that Federer was going to play a qualifier, I wanted so bad to play him. And this is what I got. So it was amazing, what happened that night. Ah, the crowd. The crowd and atmosphere.
You cannot complain about it. It is phenomenal to play in New York City, in Flushing Meadows, under those big lights, so many thousands of people cheering, making noise. It’s just a great, great, great feeling."