Calcutta: Fifteen-year-old Sumit Nagal entered the main draw of the boys’ section of the US Open, upsetting Brazilian Hugo Cesar Dojas 7-6 (3), 7-5 in round two of qualifying. His first opponent in the main draw is eight-seeded Kaichi Uchida of Japan.
The 15-year-old Nagal is one of India’s brightest prospects and has Mahesh Bhupathi as his mentor. As Bhupathi tweeted: “14 yr old Sumit Nagal has qualified for the singles main draw of USO juniors upsetting the 11th seed 7-6 7-5!”
Sumit, however, insisted Mahesh corrects his tweet. Reason? He turned 15 on August 16! “Sumit insisting I correct my last tweet. He turned 15 2 weeks ago... Still works for me...”
Early this year, after Nagal won the NRE-ITF junior title, Mahesh had heaped praise on this youngster. “Nagal is the brightest young talent I’ve seen. At his age I did not even think of winning a U-18 title!”
Nagal, who receives a 100 per cent scholarship from Bhupathi, shifted base to Toronto in September 2010 after the Apollo Tyres Mission camp in Bangalore shut down. “I’m lucky to get Mahesh sir as my mentor,” Nagal had said when it was pointed out that not many would get someone of Mahesh’s stature as a mentor. He has been in the news since last December when he won the American Cup in Miami.
The interesting thing in Nagal’s game is his willingness to come to the net. He has a strong forehand and has recently added a double-fisted backhand to his armoury. He has already imbibed that coming to the net will get him the desired results. “Not only does it hustle the opponent, but also gives me more time,” Nagal had said.
What he needs now is time to hone his game and cut down on unforced errors. “The mental aspect is very important and I’ve been working hard on it,” Nagal had said. His close associates say that he is much calmer on the court and doesn’t break racquets now when angry.
Only time will tell how far can this precocious talent go.