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Sumit Nagal exits US Open with head held high after losing to Roger Federer

Nagal became the first Indian to defeat Federer in a set of a Grand Slam

Sumit Nagal earns string of admirers

Making a Grand Slam main draw debut against Roger Federer at a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium would have been overwhelming for many players but unheralded Indian Sumit Nagal handled the occasion like a seasoned veteran, earning a string of new admirers at the US Open. 

The 22-year-old showed little sign of nerves in the first round match, coming out swinging to win the opening set against the five-time champion before exiting 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. 

(Photograph:Reuters)

Nagal becomes 1st Indian to win a set against Federer

Nagal became the first Indian to win a set against Roger Federer.

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. 

(Photograph:Reuters)

Federer praises Nagal

"I guess maybe how he handled the moment. Never easy to come out and play your best," Federer said of his opponent. 

"Even though it's kind of what you live for, you dream about, playing on the big stage. So I think he did that very well.

"I think his game is based on being really consistent, moving well, moving the ball around well. Sort of very much a clay-courter. That's also the surface he's played basically the entire year almost.

"I think he knows what he can bring. That's why I think he's going to have a very solid career."

(Photograph:AFP)

A unique experience, says Nagal

Nagal said playing against Federer was a unique experience.

"He loves putting pressure on the other guy," he said. "He's always making you think of what he's going to do, and that's how I felt. Players I have played, I never had this feeling."

(Photograph:AFP)

Nagal wanted to be a cricketer

Like most kids growing up in India, Nagal wanted to be a cricketer but it was his father who insisted he swap bat and ball for a racket, setting him on his tennis path.

In 2005 Nagal caught the eye of Bhupathi, who won India its first Grand Slam title in 1997 when he won the French Open mixed doubles, at a trial for his academy and got selected from the thousands of youngsters present.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Hailed as 'India's Nadal'

Sumit's mother and sister were thrilled about what he achieved on the hardcourt. 

"Nagal's performance in the first set made me very happy," Sumit's sister told news agency ANI.

"If you have a look at social media, he is being hailed as the Indian Nadal. My friends told me that I will be called a celebrity as I am the sister of a tennis player," she added. 

(Photograph:Reuters)

Nagal won the Wimbledon Boys' doubles title in 2015

Nagal had qualified for the US Open main draw. 

He had become the youngest Indian in 25 years to qualify for the main draw of a Grand Slam

He had earlier won the Wimbledon Boys' doubles title in 2015.

(With inputs from agencies)

(Photograph:AFP)