Indian qualifier Sumit Nagal took a set off the great Roger Federer before losing his first ever Grand Slam match at the US Open on Monday night.
Playing at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, World No. 190 Nagal did not let the occasion get the better of him and played some fine tennis to win the first set before going down fighting to the holder of a record 20 Grand Slam titles 6-4, 1-6, 2-6, 4-6.
The 23-year-old Jhajjar-born player had won three tough qualifying rounds to enter the main draw, but no one before the match had given him any chance of troubling Federer and were treating it as a walkover for Federer.
The naysayers were proved wrong as Nagal made India, and the world, sit up and take notice of his talent as he started the match nerveless and matched an error-prone Federer shot for shot, chased down every forehand and backhand and emerged triumphant in the first set.
But errors also crept into his game as the match went on and Federer got back in his groove and took the second and third sets comfortably, before closing out the match in the fourth set.
But Nagal’s gutsy performance earned the plaudits from everyone, both fans and experts alike.
After a long gap, the Krishnan era, his son Ramesh, Vijay and Leander before he shifted to doubles, a ray of hope in the gutsy Sumit Nagal. Terrific speed, strong forehand hold promise of better things in future.— Pradeep Magazine (@pradeepmagazine) August 27, 2019
Midnight approaches and Roger Federer has come back to beat Indian qualifier Sumit Nagal 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. Nagal, who has come a long way in tennis with the odds heavily against him, can hold his head very high— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) August 27, 2019
This moment 😍😍😍😍... Hopefully, this is just a start from young Sumit Nagal. pic.twitter.com/j1XPijvVlt— Hari Priya CR (@cr_hariPriya) August 27, 2019
Naturally, there were also a lot of jokes on Nagal’s name sounding a bit like a certain player called Rafael Nadal. While before the match, Twitterati called the first-round match as the knock-off version of the Nadal match, they said, Nagal played like the Spaniard, at least early in the match.
Sets won against Roger Federer at the #USOpen, an alphabetical index excerpt.…NADAL, Rafael - 0NAGAL, Sumit - 1…— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 27, 2019
Even the post-match presenter asked Federer in jest if he felt he was playing against Nadal in the first set, and not Nagal, which evoked a lot of laughs from the crowd in the arena. Federer praised Nagal performance and credited him for his performance.
Nagal turned up as Nadal today. Even though could only one set aganist the mighty Federer, it was an excellent game. He never backed down. Superb 👌👌👌 pic.twitter.com/bbXHNRVz1o— Wilfredo (@wilfredov) August 27, 2019
Take a shot everytime they say “not nadal, but nagal”Good luck— Tennys Sandgren (@TennysSandgren) August 27, 2019