Indian tennis ace Sumit Nagal made a winning start to his title defence at the Bengaluru Open 2018 as the first round action began at this $150,000+H ATP Challenger tournament in Bengaluru, India on Monday. In a rematch of last year’s final, the Indian wildcard needed 1 hour 54 minutes to prevail over the seventh seed and World No. 174 Jay Clarke 6-4, 7-5.
This was a welcome return to winning ways for the 21-year-old, who had been on a five-match losing streak before coming to his home tournament.
Last year, he put up a stunning performance all week at the Bengaluru Open. Being ranked 321st, he defeated four players placed above him in the ATP World Rankings to snatch the incredible win.
But since then, Nagal suffered a dip in form and failed to replicate that effort at any event so far this year. He could not cross the first hurdle in as many as 13 tournaments and his best display came at an ITF $25K Futures event, where he made it to the semi-finals.
In such a poor season, making a winning start to his title defence would surely give him some confidence to end the year on a high.
Nagal faced some stern test in the second set against Clarke on Monday. He was the one to secure the first break of serve as he went up to 2-1. However, the Briton came storming back and broke the Indian back in the very next game to draw level at 2-2.
Nagal managed to save a break point in the 10th game and then struck a decisive blow on Clarke to earn his second break of serve in that set before serving out the win.
Big win for Indian pair in doubles
In doubles, Saketh Myneni and Arjun Kadhe held their nerves to upset the fourth seeds Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana 6-3, 3-6, 11-9 on a good day for Indian tennis.
Also winning on Day 1 was the unheralded pair of SD Prajwal Dev and Niki Kaliyanda Poonacha, who beat Alexander Pavlioutchenkov and Filip Peliwo 1-6, 7-6(3), 10-2. But Chandril and Lakshit Sood bowed out in a one-sided 2-6, 2-6 loss to Max Purcell and Luke Saville.
On Tuesday, fourth seed and home hope Prajnesh Gunneswaran will begin his challenge at this tournament.