By – Gautam Belday, 27th August, 2019
It was the biggest day in the career of our brightest young stars, Sumit Nagal, making his Grand Slam debut against arguably, the greatest of all time, Roger Federer – at the biggest Tennis stadium in the world, the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.
But the young lad did not let his nerves get the better of him, as he bagged the first set 6-4, despite having been broken in the very first game. But it was a Federer masterclass thereafter, as he bagged the next three sets fairly comfortably, despite a bit of a hiccup in the last set.
Result – Sumit Nagal(IND,190) lost to Roger Federer(SUI,3) 6-4 1-6 2-6 4-6
Excerpts from Federer’s post-match interview below –
Q. This was Sumit’s first US Open. Coming into it, did you see anything in particular from his game? Anything surprise you on the court tonight?
ROGER FEDERER: I guess maybe how he handled the moment. Never easy to come out and play your best. 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. But, of course, it’s not the game that comes out with the biggest surprises. It’s really consistent. I think he did it very well tonight.
Q. After the first set, once you settled down, the match seemed very much on your racquet. Is that how you saw it? Were you happy with how you stayed the course at the end of the match?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, look, I broke every time first game each set. That was good. I think trying to forget the first set is never sort of easy I guess in a first round, under the lights. People expect a different result. I expect something else. I just wanted to pick up my game really, start to play better. I was able to do that. That was a relief, going up 3-Love in the second set, realizing that it is in my racquet, how I also felt it in the first set. The thing is I wasn’t serving consistently enough. I was hitting double-faults that usually I don’t do. Also I was just hitting too many unforced errors. I was in two minds, I guess. I was able to clear that a little bit. Maybe it’s not a bad thing to go through a match like this. It was very similar at Wimbledon when I dropped the first set there, as well, in the first round. At the end you look at the last three sets, and they were good. That’s encouraging.
Q. You had to keep your level high in the fourth set. What was your state of mind?
ROGER FEDERER: I thought he was getting a bit down on himself naturally after set two and three. That’s why it was key to stay ahead, and I did. That’s why it was a pity to get broken there at 2-1, give him sort of a life back. Those five-setters have a way to go. You have different lives, you feel like You feel like you’re down and out, then all of a sudden you feel energy again, momentum. The crowd gets into it. You forgot completely you actually lost the last two sets 6-1, 6-2. That’s why the score system in tennis is genius. You have to get over the finish line. I got that the hard way in Wimbledon. He did a good job to stay with me. I had to close it out. That was a tough last game. Maybe exactly the kind of service game I needed to serve it out.
Q. You haven’t played that much recently. Did you expect there to be some rust? Do you feel you’ve gotten past it?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, you can see that way that I haven’t played so much. But I feel like I played a lot this year. I don’t want to say like I feel my body.
It’s just a switch, again, from the clay and grass over to now the hard courts. I think it just requires a bit different tempo in the shots. Also maybe sometimes going up again, sort of spinning the ball at times. I don’t think it plays particularly fast, especially also was slower tonight, it was night session again.
I’m playing a clay-courter, who is comfortable to just rally, keep the ball in play. He actually does a really good job, especially on the inside-out, how he gets around. That was impressive.
I knew I could struggle, to be quite honest, especially with the rhythm. You will be in trouble if you serve as poorly as I did in the first set. That puts the pressure on because he had the upper hand from the baseline. It was up to me to be able to change that.
Yeah, I’m happy.