Former junior Wimbledon champion Sumit Nagal became the first Indian player to take the first set during his first round defeat to 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.
Remarkably, Nagal is only the fourth player after Peter Wessels, Jose Acasuso and Frances Tiafoe to take the opening set off Roger Federer at the US Open. Before this, Federer had faced two Indians and defeated both Rohan Bopanna and Somdev Devvarman in straight sets in three meetings.
The first set was a closely fought affair as both Federer and Nagal went back and forth and at one stage the set was tied at 4-4. It was then that Nagal won games continuously, and the 22-year old won the first set 6-4.
Indian qualifier put up with a valiant fight against his idol Roger Federer as he forced the Swiss legend to make 19 unforced errors in the first set. On the other hand, Nagal was dominating the rallies and capitalised on the poor start from Roger Federer to put immense pressure on the Swiss great.
However, Nagal could not keep to the momentum as Federer bounced back to his best and won 2nd, 3rd and 4th set to knock the Indian qualifier out 4-6, 1-6, 2-6, 4-6.
World number 190 Nagal, who has never earned a tour-level victory and only qualified for the year’s final Grand Slam last week, came out swinging and even put a rare look of incredulity on the faces of those inside third seed Federer’s box.
The 22-year-old Indian used impressive court coverage and sent heavily-spinning shots over the net during his dream start but his legs started to look more wobbly as the match wore and Federer righted the ship.