Sumit Nagal came up with an important win on Friday to level proceedings for India in the ongoing Davis Cup World Group 1 Playoff away tie against Denmark.
World No 9 Holger Rune scored a straight-forward 6-2, 6-2 win over Yuki Bhambri in the first rubber of the match, but Nagal battled for two hours and 27 minutes against world No 484 August Holmgren, at the Royal Stage in Hillerød, Denmark, for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win to make it 1-1 at the end of play on Day 1.
On Saturday, India will field Bhambri along with doubles world No 17 Rohan Bopanna against Denmark’s doubles players Johannes Ingildsen (ranked 358 in doubles) and Christian Sigsgaard (720 in doubles). India is expected to get the win in the doubles rubber to put the visitors ahead in the tie for the first time.
After that, as it stands, Nagal will play Rune in the fourth rubber. Should Denmark win that, it’ll go down to the deciding fifth match between Holmgren and Bhambri. However, both teams have the option of changing their line-up.
Rune started strongly, earning a break in Bhambri’s second service game to take a 3-1 lead. He’d win another break later to go 4-1 up before serving it out at 15. The 19-year-old had a similar start in the second set, taking a 3-1 lead and finding a second break later to go 5-2 before serving out the match. In all, Rune did not face a single break point.
India’s best chance to win this tie was to target and get a point against Holmgren. And Nagal managed to do just that, albeit, he did have to overcome a first set deficit.
The 25-year-old, a former world No 122 in singles, has been slowly making his way back up the ranking ladder after lengthy injury layoffs. He’s currently ranked 506 but had to use all his experience to beat a player one-year his junior who was buoyed by a partisan Danish crowd.
Eventually, Nagal managed to win solitary breaks in the second and third set, and managed to hold on to his serve to secure the match.
In the six ties Nagal has played in, this was only his second win in a live rubber.
Saturday’s matches start at 16:30 hrs IST and will be broadcast on DD Sports.