India’s Sumit Nagal mounted a sensational fightback from a set and break down in the final qualifying round to earn his first Grand Slam main draw ticket at the US Open on Friday night.
The 22-year-old will now play his first Grand Slam match on the biggest court in New York as he was drawn to face third-seed Roger Federer in the opening round of the main draw.
The world No 190 beat 210th ranked Joao Menezes of Brazil 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 in the final qualifying round. He started on the backfoot, dropping a set for the first time in three matches. At one point he was trailing 5-7, 1-4 but turned things around to win nine straight games and take control of the match.
Nagal converted five of 11 break points he had and lost serve only three times out of six.
The Brazilian had beaten him earlier this year at the Samarkhand Challenger in May as well as at an ITF event in Spain last year. Both matches went to three sets and Nagal was a seeded player in both the losses.
The former junior Wimbledon doubles champion was in the third round of Grand Slam qualifying for the first time. His breakthrough win means there will be two Indians in the men’s singles main draw at a Grand Slam after over 20 years. Prajnesh Gunneswaran already had a direct entry to the main draw and will play Daniil Medvedev in the opening round.
The last time there were two Indian men at a Grand Slam was the 1998 Wimbledon when Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi played.