Sumit Nagal fought hard, but ran out of steam in the third set against Serbia’s Viktor Troicki to lose 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-1 and crash out in the first round of Tata Open Maharashtra at the Mhulange Balewadi Stadium in Pune on Monday.
After an insipid 32-minute first set, where both the players committed innumerable unforced errors, and an engaging rally-filled second set that saw Nagal winning the crucial points, it was the Serb, a former top-20 player, who kept his focus to win the third and deciding set. Nagal was a spent force in the third set, after giving his all in the previous set.
The Indian had a mediocre start and struggled to get the right elevation in his returns, often sending it high and long. Troicki, who is on a high after leading Serbia to ATP Cup victory alongside World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, didn’t quite get his returns right either. If Nagal kept hitting on the high, the Serb, ranked 191, caught the tape often. But he made fewer errors and was far more successful with his service games. He broke the Indian twice to pocket the first-set with ease.
The second set was all that the first set wasn’t. Nagal went for flatter strokes, moved fluidly on either side of the baseline and went for his inside-out forehands to create winners. Cross-court passes came in good measure as well.
Eyes on the ball: Viktor Troicki in action during his first-round win over Sumit Nagal on Monday. – R. Ragu
After Nagal held his first service game in the second set with a lucky net chord touch, he had three breakpoints in the fourth game with a 0-40 lead, but Troicki sent down two aces and a forehand winner to level the score. Nagal had two more breakpoint opportunities, but Troicki held his own with yet another ace. Two more engrossing and long rallies followed with the Serb breaking Nagal in the fifth game to lead 3-2.
The Indian broke the Serbian qualifier with an overhead smash at the net to go level immediately. Three long rallies were followed by three quick ones with Nagal clearly taking the edge.
The dramatic battle was not over yet. Serving to save the set, Troicki had Nagal going for the kill. Five deuces, two set points for Nagal, but the Serb held his nerve to take it to the tiebreaker. Nagal, improving steadily and steadfastly supported by the sparse crowd in attendance, took the match into a decider with a dominant display in the tiebreaker. He closed it out 7-4 with an inside out winner.
He began the third set in the same vein, getting two breakpoint opportunities in the first game, but Troicki saved both. That was the last of Nagal’s brilliance on the night as Troicki rode the momentum to a double break and a win.
– Ramkumar ousted –
Ramkumar Ramanathan also suffered a first round exit as he suffered a 6-3, 4-6, 5-7 loss at the hands of Salvatore Caruso.
The Indian took the first set but was broken twice in the second set. The third set saw both players hold serve until the 11th game. Caruso led 6-5 and Ramkumar was serving to force the match to a tiebreaker but the Italian got the better of him as he won the game off his second match point.