Sumit Nagal was on court for 3 hours, in the 33C sweltering Tokyo heat. He could have helped himself to a much easier win, but was unable to close the match at 6-4 5-2 up. “It was super tough to have not closed the match in the second set. I don’t know how the result would have been if this were a Challenger event. Having India written on my back made the difference”, said Nagal, after the match.
But Sumit did eventually close the match & beat Uzbek Denis Istomin, with the scoreboard reading 6-4 6-7(6) 6-4. He became just the third Indian to win a singles match at the Olympics in the process.
Zeeshan Ali was the first Indian to win a match at the Seoul Games in 1988, with Leander Paes becoming the second Indian, while on his run to the bronze medal in Atlanta in 1996. Sania Mirza(2008 Beijing), Somdev Devvarman, & Vishnu Vardhan (both 2012 London) competed after, but none of them could manage a win.
Sumit will take on world number 2 Daniil Medvedev next on Monday. One can expect Sumit to show up with his usual never say die attitude.