On August 27, at the Arthur Ashe court in Flushing Meadows, New York City, a 22-year-old Indian tennis player scripted history. Sumit Nagal took on 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer and won the first set at the ongoing US Open! And this amazing feat earned him the moniker of “Indian Nadal”.
In an interview with The Times of India, the tennis star revealed his state of mind before the crucial match saying, “When I got to know that I will be playing Roger Federer in the first round, I was thrilled and extremely happy. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. The energy I had in the days leading to this match was insane.”
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A night to remember, definitely a very crazy experience playing on Arthur Ashe against the Master @rogerfederer. I could not have asked for anything better. You guys were amazing, thank you so much for the support. It's been incredible in NYC and from back home. Thanks to my team and everyone who has supported me @nensel_tennis_academy @vkfofficial @cornerstonesport @virat.kohli @solinco @lottosport @indianoilcorp
According to Sumit, the thing that helped him take the first set off the ace was that he didn’t let himself get intimidated. He revealed,
“It was more about enjoying the time being there, playing for myself, my family and my country. There was already enough pressure walking in, so I did not want to put too much pressure on myself by thinking about the outcome of the match.”
“Of course, Roger Federer has won a lot of tournaments, but in the end, you are on the same court hitting the same ball, so you can’t get intimidated by your opponent. If you let that happen, you lose your chance to win. He is also in it to win. Once you are on the court, your opponent is just your opponent. At that moment, he ceases to be Roger Federer.”
When asked who was his sports idol, he had this to say,
“I love watching Rafael Nadal play. His intensity and hunger to win is insane. Even at this age, after winning 18 Grand Slams, he doesn’t want to give away a single point. It would be a dream come true to play against him.”
Talking about how Indian athletes need funding and his own struggles with money, he revealed,
“Virat Kohli’s foundation has been supporting me since 2017. If I didn’t have Virat Kohli supporting me, I don’t know what I would have done. Early this year, when I was flying from Canada to Germany after a tournament, I had six dollars in my wallet… just six dollars after the help that I have been getting, so imagine what a mess I must have been before.”
We’re so proud of Sumit representing the country on an international level and hope that he continually improves his rankings and fulfils his dream of playing against clay-king Nadal.