Three to see: India’s singles challenge at the 2023 US Open

The 2023 US Open’s qualifying round matches are all set to begin on 22nd August. The men’s singles draw features India’s top ranked singles player Sumit Nagal, whereas the women’s singles draw features Ankita Raina and Karman Kaur Thandi.

The 2023 season hasn’t been too promising for India in Majors in the singles category. Raina, the sole representative of the nation in singles at the Channel Slam ended her run in the qualifying rounds. As we gear up for the final Major of the season, we analyse the draw at hand for India’s representatives.

Sumit Nagal

Credits – Kopatsch/Sato/Sidorjak

Sumit Nagal has played 12 hard court matches at the Challenger level this season. He has managed seven wins, with his best performance coming at the Chennai Challenger where he finished as a semi-finalist. Title wins at the clay court Challenger events in Tampere and Rome has added some sheen to Nagal’s lack-lustre hard court season.

Placed with the Top 200, Nagal faces a tricky first round opponent in the form of Taro Daniel. Dani has had a spirited season on hard courts, reaching the quarterfinals at Acapulco and the third round at Indian Wells as a qualifier. The Japanese has recorded wins against notable opponents like Alexander Zverev, Matteo Berrettini and Casper Ruud in hard court events this season.

Both Nagal and Daniel will face each other for the first time. An upset over Daniel would place Nagal against a relatively easier second round opponent – Francesco Passaro (No.173) or Seongchan Hong (No.203). Argentine players Federico Coria and Facundo Bagnis are seeded third and 29th in the qualifying draw. Both players  would be much bigger challenges for Nagal, should he manage to make the final round of the qualifying draw.

Ankita Raina

Hard courts have been the preferred surface for India’s No.1 female tennis player. Ankita Raina’s 23-16 win-loss ratio in 2023 is largely due to her impressive runs in ITF tournaments. A runner-up at Bangalore and Jakarta, and a semifinalist at Pune and Tbilsi, Raina has had an impressive season on the ITF circuit.

She enters the US Open after a Round of 16 finish at Prague. The World No.182 has drawn Romania’s Miriam Bulgaru (World No. 214) in the first round of the qualifying draw. A win in this first round clash would place Raina opposite the winner of Aliona Bolsova and Magali Kempen. Both players are on a three-match and nine-match losing streak, giving Raina an opportunity to pounce upon.

Former Top 40 player Tereza Martincova is likely to be Raina’s opponent in the final round of the qualifying draw. Martincova enters US Open after quarterfinals run at Prague and Kozerki. Seeded 20th, Martincova and Raina are yet to face each other on the tennis court.

Karman Kaur Thandi

Karman Kaur Thandi’s season has been a positive one in terms of ranking progression. Having jumped 52 spots from where she was placed at the start of the season, the World No.211 has managed to win 16 of the 25 matches on hard courts in 2023. The 2023 Evansville ITF champion was also a runner-up at the Sumter ITF.

Thandi faces 18th seed and former Top 50 player Oceane Dodin in the opening round. It will be a first meeting for both players, with Dodin aiming to furnish her season on her preferred surface. Dodin has had an impressive run on the ITF tour this season, winning indoor hard courts events in Grenoble and  

 Andrezieux-Boutheon, and the outdoor hard court event in Monastir.

Thandi’s draw does not get any easier. An upset over Dodin is likely to place her against Top 200 player Astra Sharma. Thandi also finds 10th seed Laura Siegemund in her section of the draw. The German is a probable opponent in the final round of the qualifying draw, should Thandi manage to stun her opponents.

Start time of qualifying round matches of Indian players:

August 22

Sumit Nagal vs Taro Daniel – 8.30 p.m.

August 23

Ankita Raina vs Miriam Bulgaru – 4.45 a.m.

Karman Kaur Thandi vs Oceane Dodin – 12.35 a.m.

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