India’s Sumit Nagal started brilliantly against three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka by taking the first set but then wilted under the aggression from the Swiss star to bow out of the Prague Open in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Nagal took the first 6-2 at the Challenger event before the Swiss star stormed back into the match, winning 12 out the next 13 games.
The 23-year-old Indian bagged the first set in stunning fashion after breaking the Swiss heavyweight’s serve to raise hopes of an upset win.
But it was not to be as the Indian, ranked 127, was overpowered by the world 17 Wawrinka who won the next two sets 6-0, 6-1 to pocket the match that lasted one hour and 19 minutes and advance to the semifinals.
While Nagal broke Wawrinka twice in the opening set, signs of nerves started to show at the end of it when he was serving to take a 1-0 lead. Despite serving double faults on set points, he managed to hold on to wrap it up 6-2.
But once Wawrinka got his serving radar right and the forehand going, Nagal was blown away. His flurry of unforced errors did not help either as Wawrinka refocussed and stormed to a 6-0 scoreline in the second set.
After a change-room visit, Wawrinka came out in blazing form again. While Nagal was able to avoid a bagel by holding serve at 5-0, Wawrinka closed the match out with ease. He had a remarkable 100% win record in the final set when he got his first serve in. While Nagal’s game improved in the third, it was still a bridge too far against the Swiss.
Incidentally, Nagal had also taken a set off another Swiss star when he took on multiple Grand Slam winner Roger Federer at the US Open last year before going on to lose the match.
Nagal, seeded sixth, had entered the quarterfinals of this Euro 137,560 clay court tournament following a 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-3 win over lower-ranked local player Kiri Lehecka.
Nagal has received a direct entry into the US Open singles main draw after several top players pulled out of the Grand Slam starting August 31.
He made his Grand Slam debut at US Open last year, coming through the qualifiers to play Federer in the first round. Since then, he has climbed steadily and is the top-ranked Indian at present. He was the last man to receive direct entry into the field of 128, which was determined using the latest ATP rankings, according to the tournament website.