India's Sumit Nagal booked a place in the main draw of the US Open, after a win over Joao Menezes, where he was dealt a dream matchup against Roger Federer. Nagal will be joined by Prajnesh Gunneswaran making it the first time since 1998 that India have two players in the singles main draw.
In the final qualification round of the US Open, Nagal was up against Menezes and the two players refused to give an inch holding their first five serves fairly easily. It was the Indian who made the first move as he managed to bring up four break points in the 11th game but could not convert. It went from bad to worse as Menezes broke the Indian in the very next game to take the first set 7-5.
It looked like Menezes had the upper hand as he broke Nagal in the second game of the second set to take control of the match. However, Nagal was not to be undone and he came back stronger to break the Brazillian in the seventh and ninth game to take the second set 6-4. In the decider, Nagal carried the momentum though and broke Menezes twice in a row. Even though Menezes pulled one break back in the sixth game, it was undone by Nagal two games later as he sealed the final set 6-3.
It got even better for the Indian as he was drawn against 20-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer in the first round. India will have two players in a Grand Slam singles for the first time since 1998 thanks to the presence of Gunneswaran in the draw.
Mahesh Bhupathi, who was one of the two men who represented India at Wimbledon 1998, was full of praise for his compatriot after the draw.
“Nagal has been unlucky with injuries and has worked very hard to get back to this level. Playing Roger at the US Open at night is every qualifier’s dream and nightmare and I think this experience will both be a confidence booster and a career defining moment for him,” Bhupathi told PTI.
“He needs to enjoy the moment and go for his shots,” Bhupathi advised Nagal ahead of the Federer match.