Sumit Nagal knocked out of Australian Open after valiant effort vs Shang | Tennis News - Hindustan Times

Sumit Nagal knocked out of Australian Open after gallant effort against China's Shang in second round

Jan 18, 2024 02:05 PM IST

Nagal was beaten by Shang 6-2, 3-6, 5-7, 4-6 in the second round of Australian Open 2024.

Sumit Nagal’s run at the 2024 Australian Open ended on Thursday as he suffered a 6-2, 3-6, 5-7, 4-6 defeat in two hours and 50 minutes against China’s 18-year-old wild card Juncheng Shang in the men’s singles second round.

India's Sumit Nagal hits a return against China's Shang Juncheng during their men's singles match on day five of the Australian Open(AFP)
India's Sumit Nagal hits a return against China's Shang Juncheng during their men's singles match on day five of the Australian Open(AFP)

Nagal, with his opening round win against Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik, had become the first Indian since 1989, when Ramesh Krishnan upset world No.1 and defending champion Mats Wilander at the Australian Open, to beat a seeded player at a Grand Slam.

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Heading into the second round, having come through the qualifiers to enter the main draw of a Major for the fourth time in his career, Nagal had not dropped a set across his four matches at Melbourne Park.

The 26-year-old began strongly once again to claim the opening set on Court 13. The second break he earned to get to 5-2 was particularly impressive as the game went to deuce six times but Nagal remained determined and came out on top. He had found his range with his forehand and was dictating play cleverly.

From there on, though, Shang turned things around in superb fashion to win the next three sets and book his spot in the third round. The teenager, who had fought back to beat Mackenzie McDonald in five sets in the opening round, showed incredible composure yet again.

The young left-hander began firing powerfully from both flanks and kept growing in confidence. He broke to take a 3-1 lead and held firm to close out the second set and draw level. The third set remained on serve till 6-5 but Shang earned a break at just the right time to gain a lead in the contest. The momentum had switched entirely in his favour by then and he broke to get 4-3 ahead in the fourth set before running away with the match.

For Nagal, it was a disappointing end to what had been a historic campaign. The right-hander from Jhajjar, Haryana, seemed to be giving it his all but his opponent simply had too much firepower. Shang made 52 unforced errors but kept going for his shots and also hit 55 winners.

The Chinese player will now take on world No.2 Carlos Alcaraz, who beat Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 6-4, (3)6-7, 6-3, 7-6(3), in the third round on Sunday.

Meanwhile, there was some cheer for Indian fans in the men’s doubles competition as Rohan Bopanna and his Australian partner Matthew Ebden defeated the all-Aussie pair of James Duckworth and Marc Polmans 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(2) in the first round.

Bopanna and Ebden, the second seeds, were down 0-5 in the first set before making a remarkable comeback to win the opener in a tie-breaker as the 43-year-old Indian produced some clutch tennis. Duckworth and Polmans bounced back to win the second set but Bopanna and Ebden held their nerves in the decider and clinched another tie-breaker to seal the deal. They will face another all-Australian pair of John Millman and Edward Winter in the second round on Friday.

However, the Indian men’s doubles pair of Vijay Sundar Prashanth and Anirudh Chandrasekar was knocked-out in the first round after a 3-6, 4-6 defeat against Hungary's Marton Fucsovics and Fabian Marozsan.

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