Nagal breaks into top 100 with Chennai Open triumph

Sumit Nagal
Sumit Nagal won the Chennai Open without dropping a set. Photo: PTI/R Senthil Kumar

Chennai: India's top singles player Sumit Nagal on Sunday won his fifth Challenger-level singles title, outplaying Italian Luca Nardi in the final of the Chennai Open -- an achievement which propelled him into the top-100 for the first time in his career.

Nagal's 6-1, 6-4 win took him to No. 98 in the latest rankings issued on Monday.

Nagal has been in tremendous form as he won the Chennai Open without dropping a set.

Nagal is the first Indian to feature in singles top 100 since the left-handed Prajnesh Gunneswaran made the cut in 2019.

"I'm very emotional (today). You know, every tennis player's dream is to be top 100 at least. And like I said earlier, to win this match in front of the home crowd in your own country, I don't think I could have asked for a better place," Nagal said after his victory.

"I don't think there were words, everyone was crying. Less words, more tears.

"I'm still very emotional. It's been very tough last year with being ranked 500, getting surgery done, not having financial support.

"A lot of ups and downs, you know. And I'm very happy that I found a way to push every single day and give myself a chance to be here," he said.

Nagal also hoped this win will inspire aspiring athletes to pursue a career in singles tennis.

"We'd love to see more people playing the Slams, but I hope this win can push more people to pursue career in singles as well," he said.

It has been a terrific start to the 2024 season for the 26-year-old Indian, who qualified for the Australian Open main draw and knocked out top-30 player Alexander Bublik in the first round.

"I am happy with the way I am controlling myself and the zone I am in. I think it is very important for a tennis player because sport is very important.

"Once you step on the court, it is just you. And if you are not in the right mindset, or if you are not seeing the right things, it is very tough to change things on the court," he said. 

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