Sumit Nagal brought India back in the Davis Cup World Group playoff tie against Denmark, winning the second singles after Yuki Bhambri was outplayed in the opening match on Friday.
It was always a tall task for Bhambri to counter world number nine Holger Rune and there was no surprise as Denmark’s top singles player raced to a 6-2, 6-2 win to put the hosts up 1-0.
Nagal, India’s number one player, erased a one-set deficit to pip August Holmgren 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 27 minutes to make it 1-1 at the end of day one.
The 25-year-old Nagal, ranked 506, dropped serve in the very first game of the match but once he got hold of his nerves, he made it count.
He got the break back but squandered the chances when Holmgren offered them. The Danish player, ranked 484, eventually sealed the set.
In the second set, it was Nagal who took the lead and went up 5-2. He served out the set in the ninth game to force a decider. Nagal had a chance to get the first break when he made a deep return and Holmgren’s forehand return sailed over the baseline at 30-all, but the home player served well to save the chance.
Always a special feeling to wear the blue jersey and play for my country. A small step in a long journey ahead
– Sumit Nagal (@nagalsumit) February 3, 2023
Nagal got another chance when Holmgren netted a forehand at deuce point in the third game but he himself made a forehand error on the breakpoint.
While Nagal preferred to hit from the baseline, Holmgren often charged the net often to create chances for volley winners.
Holmgren handed Nagal another break chance when he tried to pick a low volley but could not keep the ball in the court and followed that up with a double fault, allowing Nagal to take a mini 3-2 lead.
That lead stayed with Nagal and he came out serving for the match in the 10th game. Holmgren’s forehand error gave Nagal three match points and he converted the first one after his opponent’s unforced error.
In the opening singles match, the 19-year-old Rune broke Bhambri twice in each set. Rune converted four of the seven break chances while Bhambri did not get a single chance to break his opponent.
Rune played percentage tennis while Bhambri struggled with his first serve, double faulting four times in the lop-sided contest being played at indoor hard courts. Bhambri has quit singles on the ATP Tour.
On Saturday, doubles and reverse singles will be played. If India lose this tie, they will be relegated to World Group II.