Meet 22-YO Sumit Negal, Who Beat Roger Federer In His First Debut Set Of Grand Slam

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Sumit Nagal has become the youngest Indian to qualify for a Grand slam singles main draw in the last 25 years. But that is not all! This underdog from Jhajjar, Haryana was well aware that it was going to be highly difficult for him to qualify because he was playing against none other than 20 Grand Slams’ winner Roger Federer. 

After winning the maiden set, Sumit who calls Federer his God said, “Sometimes it’s not about winning or losing. It’s just the experience. It’s playing someone who has won 20 Grand Slams.” The correct approach of Sumit helped him defeat Federer 6-4 in the first set thus making him the first-ever Indian to win a set against Federer at all levels of professional tennis. 

The Ride Was Very Tough

It is never easy to make an international debut with success especially for an Indian where Tennis is not a very popular game and the support for this sport is very low. Sumit Nagal was just 3 games from getting an exit in the qualifiers. But he managed to make an outstanding comeback against Joao Menezes.

From then on he won 6 out of 7 games including a set against his favorite player and inspiration Federer in the main draw. While avoiding using the term idol for the tennis great, Sumit said, “If you watch Federer and what he’s doing with the ball and then you try to do the same, you’re just going to break your racquets. It’s never going to happen. That’s why he’s not my idol. Just too good. That’s how I see it.”

Taking a cue from his previous journey it seems that Sumit is all set to achieve big things. He was ranked 350 in April this year but within four months he covered half the distance and almost reached the 5 Challenger semi-finals in the last 2 months. 

Sumit’s Goal Is To Do Really Well In Tennis

The boy from Haryana previously won the doubles title at Wimbledon with his Vietnamese partner Nam Hoang Ly and became the sixth Indian to achieve the feat. His induction in Apollo Mission 2018 program in 2007 by former doubles number 1 Mahesh Bhupati helped Sumit to excel internationally. 

  

At that time Sumit was only 10 years old but was confident of his game. Sumit says, “I was hitting with the other kids and there was a moment where I went to Mahesh and said ‘Mr. Bhupathi, could you please look at my game?’ I knew who he was, so I grabbed his hand and asked him to look at my game. That’s the one line that changed my life. If I didn’t tell him this, I would not be sitting here right now.”

Since then Sumit has not looked back and despite suffering some major injuries he never lost focus on his goal. The boy wants to do really well in tennis and not just become a No. 80 or 90 players in the world. He wants to be the one to shift focus from cricket to tennis in India. 

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