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Sumit Nagal aims to break into top 100 to qualify for the Olympics, plans to stay an extra month to explore Japan

​Sumit Nagal​ is eager to visit Japan​.
Sumit Nagal is eager to visit Japan.
The young tennis player shares his Davis Cup experience, his hope to qualify for the Olympics and to finally visit Japan.

Back from India's Davis Cup win against Pakistan on neutral soil in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, rising tennis star Sumit Nagal has spent some time at home in Delhi. The last year has had some highs for the 22-year-old as he took a set off Roger Federer at the US Open, got his first Davis Cup win and also won the Buenos Aires Challenger on clay.

The World No. 128 told ET Panache, "I played Davis Cup after a year-and-a-half. I was opted out due to injury and other reasons. It was good to be back in the squad, playing No 1 for the country. It was a special moment to play against Pakistan. We had been waiting to see where the tie would happen. We were unsure if we would play in Pakistan. Everyone was very eager to go on the court and play. We all wanted to win this tie as brutal as we could. It's not a bad thing, once you step on the court, you are representing your country."

First win
The team atmosphere as well as the climate supported the Indian contingent. The first win in Davis Cup is special for Nagal. "I knew the opponent (Hufaiza Mohammed Rehman), I was to play. No offense but he is playing junior level and his ranking is thousand odd. There was a bit of pressure. There is always pressure when you walk on the court, especially when you are playing Davis Cup, representing the country. I was a little nervous for the first two games. But after that everything went fine. I didn't feel any pressure. I went with the flow and things worked for me. It was a decent match. He played well, better than I had expected," he said referring to the match.

The first win in Davis Cup is special for Sumit Nagal​​.
The first win in Davis Cup is special for Sumit Nagal.

But Nagal feels that even if Pakistan's top players, who opted out because a neutral venue was selected, had played, the result would have been the same. "It does not matter where we were playing. Whatever those players have been saying, I do not agree with them. He (Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi) opted out. He made sure he sits out and he doesn't play the match. You can talk as much as you want, but when it is time to show, (if) you don't show (up), then you don't deserve to say anything," he said with agitation in his voice.

The confidence he shows on the field is the same that Nagal brings through his conversations. He added, "We were ready to play. We always had a team going to Pakistan, we had a flight. It was not like we were going to forfeit. When we went to a neutral tie, we made sure we were there. We did what we came for."

Olympic quest
Nagal has not been able to make the main draw for next month's Australian Open, but he is hopeful that he can make it to the Olympics, later in the year. One of the reasons is that it is happening in Japan, a country he desperately wants to visit. "I first need to break into the top 100 to qualify for the Olympics. That is going to be my first goal. I am going to play as many tournaments as possible and keep pushing myself. I don't have much time. It's just five or six months left. That is the plan. It would be awesome to go to Japan. I can't wait. I am giving a 200 per cent push. If I make it, I will stay back an extra month to explore the country," he signed off.

Game, Set, Split: Naomi Osaka And Other Tennis Aces Who Parted Ways From Their Coaches

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Play Slideshow

An Unhappy Coach

19 Mar, 2019
The coming together of Djokovic (R) and Becker (L) as player and coach caught the world’s imagination in 2013. The Serbian star went on to win six Grand Slams under Becker and held all four major titles. However, three years later, the pair parted ways and it was clear that Becker wasn’t too happy. Speaking about Djokovic, he said, “He didn’t spend as much time on the practice court in the last six months as he should have, and he knows that.”

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