Indian tennis sensation Sumit Nagal roared in glory when he won the first round of the Australian Open, defeating world No. 27 Alexander Bublik of Russia on 16 Jan.
The win made him the first Indian male player since Ramesh Krishnan in 1989 to beat a seeded player at a Grand Slam.
The 26-year-old, who had faced disappointment three years ago at Melbourne Park, delivered a stellar performance to advance to the second round with a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) against Bublik in two hours and 38 minutes to enter the second round.
Nagal dominated the proceedings, breaking early in the first and second sets. The third set brought its share of drama as Bublik fought back, forcing a tie-breaker. The Indian, however, maintained composure, ultimately securing victory after a double fault from his opponent.
After achieving this historic feat, Nagal explained his injury struggles, game strategy, and preparations for the upcoming game.
SUMIT NAGAL CREATES HISTORY; UPSETS WORLD NO.27 BUBLIK AT AUS OPEN 🔥
– First Indian (male or female) to beat a seeded player at a Grand Slam since 1989
– 2nd Grand Slam Main Draw win (after US Open 2020)
– 7th Top 100 Win
– 2nd best career win by ranking
– Wins 6-4 6-2 7-6 pic.twitter.com/Ud23BaVDkD
— Indian Tennis Daily (ITD) (@IndTennisDaily) January 16, 2024
Discussing his struggles with injury in the past few months and how that helped him, Sumit said coming back to the court post-injury not only marked his physical recovery but also shaped him into a mature player.
“The last 12-18 months have been both good and bad,” Nagal told official broadcaster Sony Sports. “Bad due to my injury, and good because I learned a lot during my break. When I returned to the court after the injury, it made me a better and more mature player. I felt and understood tennis much better, and I think that is paying off on the courts.”
Nagal also spoke about his mindset when he saw Bublik talking a lot to himself and his box between the 1st and 2nd serves. He said, “When I saw him doing that, I knew I have to be there and just have to give him another ball. Serve a lot of first serves, and not give him chances too many times, and I think that worked well for me. Make him move a lot, and get him more and more annoyed.”
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 16, 2024
After defeating the World Ranked No 27 player in straight sets and achieving the unthinkable, Sumit concluded with his preparation strategy for the upcoming game, saying, “The plan for tomorrow is to take it easy, do an ice bath, get a massage, get some extra hours in sleep. That’s a very typical day-off routine for me.”
This is the first time Nagal made it to the second round of the Australian Open. He made the main draw of the season’s opening Grand Slam in 2021 but lost in the first round.
Sumit Nagal beats Bublik 6-4 6-2 7-6(5) at the Australian Open
Last year, he was outside of the top 500.
He said he had just 900 euros in his bank account at 1 point.
It’s not easy to admit that, but his story was raw, honest, & real.
He made $120,000 today. And he deserves… pic.twitter.com/Ddfv6ofZ4m
— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) January 16, 2024
Somdev Devvarman was the last Indian to reach the second round of the Australian Open back in 2013.
Sumit Nagal’s next challenge awaits in the form of Chinese wildcard Juncheng Shang, who defeated Mackenzie McDonald, the player who famously defeated Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open last year.