Rising tennis star Sumit Nagal has said that his US Open first round match against Swiss great Roger Federer has helped him identify areas that he needs to improve upon. The 21-year-old from Haryana also said that clay was his preferred surface.
Nagal breezed through the qualifiers to face the 20-time Grand Slam winner in the first round at the Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday. He incredibly ended up winning the first set, but Federer took the next three to script a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win.
"When I got to know that Federer has to play a qualifier in the first round, I told my coach that I really want to qualify and face him," Nagal told IANS.
"After the qualifiers got over, I was getting my massage when my coach told me that I will be facing Federer. I was very happy. We had two days off and I couldn't sleep because of the excitement. I didn't make any changes to my training schedule though," the Haryana lad said.
Nagal said that he was able to win the first set because of his serve and some good play from the base line, but Federer made the necessary adjustments after that and won the match.
"It doesn't matter that I won a set, what matters is who won the match. In the first set I was serving very well and winning a lot of points from the baseline. He noticed this and started putting some pressure on me in the second set. He then started serving very well and pretty much took the game away from me," he said.
Nagal also said that clay was his preferred surface, something that Federer himself had pointed out after the match.
"I think his game is based on being really consistent, moving well, moving the ball around well. Sort of very much a clay-courter. That's also the surface he's basically played the entire year almost," Federer had said.
Nagal could not speak to Federer after the match as both players had to give interviews. When asked how he evaluated where he stood after the match, Nagal admitted that he needed improvement in all departments of the game.
"You need to be very fit to play five-set matches. I have always been working on my fitness and I still need to do a lot more. It will take time," he said.
Nagal also said that the Virat Kohli Foundation has helped him a lot.
"Tennis tends to be a very expensive sport. You need to travel to a lot of different places. The Virat Kohli Foundation has helped me a lot in this respect over the past three years," he said.