Marbella Challenger: Sumit Nagal ousts eighth seed, sets up showdown with Ramkumar Ramanathan
Lucky loser Sumit Nagal put up a masterclass performance to upset the eighth seeded Marcel Granollers and set up a blockbuster all-Indian showdown in the second round of the Casino Admiral Trophy -- an ATP Challenger tournament held in Marbella, Spain on Tuesday. The 20-year-old Nagal, who is ranked 218th, needed 1 hour 20 minutes to show the exit door to the World No. 131 with a 6-4, 6-1 win.
Next up for him is compatriot Ramanathan, who dropped the middle set, but managed to pull through in his opener. The 136th ranked Indian beat the World No. 161 Alessandro Giannessi 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in 1 hour 58 minutes.
Nagal, who won the Bengaluru Challenger at home in November, had been struggling since the start of the year until reaching the semi-finals of an ITF Futures event in Italy at the beginning of this month. He carried that form into the Marbella Challenger this week, where he won two rounds in qualifying.
In the first round, he accounted for former junior Wimbledon champion Gianluigi Quinzi 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 and followed it up with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 victory over Marko Djokovic, Novak Djokovic’s brother.
In the final round, he was beaten 6-4, 3-6, 4-6 by Pedro Cachin of Argentina, yet got through to the main draw as a lucky loser.
The 23-year-old Ramanathan came to this event after losing to Yuki Bhambri in the second round of qualifying at the Indian Wells Masters. His best performance so far this season has been a pre-quarter-final appearance at the Tata Open Maharashtra, where he bowed out to former champion Marin Cilic.
He won 66% of his total service points and 39% of his total return points and converted three out of the eight break points that he earned in his first round at Marbella. Nagal was absolutely devastating on break point conversion and made use of six out of seven break points.
They have met thrice and Ramanathan won all three of those meetings, although their last two matches went the distance.