Sumit Nagal secured a place in the semifinals of the ongoing ATP Challenger in Chennai with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Britain’s Jay Clarke on Friday. The Indian came through qualifying and has dropped just one set in five matches this week. The 25-year-old will next face American Nicolas Moreno de Alboran for a place in the final.
Nagal spoke to the media after his quarter-final win.
Q) Your thoughts on the match?
One of the best matches I’ve played in this tournament. I came out feeling good, I maintained my intensity throughout the match, so really happy about it.
Q) You were pushed to three sets in the previous match against Jason Jung. You were, however, far more clinical today, so what changed?
Today I feel I was calmer and more relaxed, also the way he plays it suited my game. So maybe it’s because of that compared to the previous match.
Q) You lost a string of qualifying matches before heading into the Chennai Challenger. How have you managed this turnaround?
It’s tough when you put pressure on yourself, as you play a tournament you don’t want to tell yourself ‘you must reach the final otherwise you can’t play tennis’. So every point you are thinking and wasting so much energy. I always play match by match, I always tell people that this is how I think, this is what I want. I hate the feeling of going to bed and saying, ‘Oh, I need to win six matches in a row’.
Q) Somdev Devvarman has joined your entourage this week. How has his presence affected your game?
He and I are very different, I’m very aggressive and he’s very calm. I need to be calm on the court, so I’m learning this from him. Also learning how to see the game because he’s better than me in that way. So spending time with him is nice.
Q) You also played doubles this week with Mukund Sasikumar. Was it a last-minute call?
Doubles was a last-minute decision, just for fun.
Q) How did your performance at the Davis Cup just prior to the Chennai Challenger, especially the match against Holger Rune, help you in gaining confidence for this week?
Playing good in Davis Cup matches is definitely a confidence boost, because I think Davis Cup, Olympics, Asian Games matches are probably the highest pressure matches because you know everyone’s watching you, ever match means so much. The way I was able to perform in that match, I was very happy.
Photos by Srividya Balayogi