Hindustan Times, Pune
Sumit Nagal’s match can be described in three phases— slow to get into rhythm in the first set, fighting like a warrior in the next and then a complete surrender in the decider.
The score-line 2-6, 7-6 (4), 1-6 reflects on how the 125th ranked Nagal impressed before bowing out against World No. 191 Viktor Troicki of Serbia in a two hour 19-minute battle in the first round of the Tata Open Maharashtra ATP event at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Balewadi on Monday.
Nagal was playing the catching game in the first set as he was broken in the first serve after a few errors at the base line and a couple of double faults allowed Troicki to take the set.
Nagal at his best
The next set saw Nagal at his best with backhand and forehand winners coming. It helped keep the battle on level pegging with Troicki to push the set into the tie-breaker.
In the tie breaker, Nagal, after taking a 5-3 lead, wrapped it up by winning 7-4 for the set.
With the crowd chanting ‘let’s go Nagal, let’s go’ it was expected that Nagal would be inspired to peak in the final set. But it did not happen as his serve speed dropped and winners dried up before Troicki wrapped up the match .
“I was upset (in third set) with my shots and once you are frustrated things don’t work the way you want. He (Troicki) was serving very well and he played smart tennis as well,” said Nagal.
Karlovic sent home
Last year’s runner-up Ivo Karlovic, the 40-year-old from Croatia, could not do much this time as he was eliminated by Cedrik-Marcel Stebe of Germany, who won 6-3, 6-4 after a match lasting just over an hour.
Stebe, who had landed in Pune after a first round loss to Frenchman Benoit Paire in the Australian Open, had a difficult start as he saved five break points in the first game but broke Karlovic in the sixth.
In the 2019 edition, Karlovic was only broken once—in the semi-final against Steve Darcis. On Friday, the Croatian had six aces but was outdone by the ferocious game of Stebe. “I knew him before, he is really fast, unbelievable hands. He can do anything on the court. I knew it’s going be extremely difficult, again I didn’t use my opportunities. And that is it,” said Karlovic.
Interesting Davis Cup
Karlovic believes the Davis Cup World Group qualifying tie between India and Croatia next month won’t be one-sided.
“It will be a difficult match because India have really good guys also and every Davis Cup is the difficult. I don’t know who will be in our team but we also have a strong team and it would be interesting match,” Karlovic said.
World No. 30 Borna Coric is the top-ranked Croatia player and the seasoned Marin Cilic is 37th. Karlovic (121) is the third best player from Croatia. However, he didn’t comment when asked if he would play.
Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (Ger) bt Ivo Karlovic (Cro) 6-3, 6-4; 5-Yuichi Sugita (Jpn) bt Thomas Fabbiano (Ita) 6-3, 6-0; q-Viktor Troicki (SRB) bt Sumit Nagal (Ind) 6-2, 7-6 (4), 6-1.
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