Bengaluru Open: Sumit Nagal claims maiden ATP title

Nagal’s game wasn’t quite at the same level as it was in his thrashing of Yuki Bhambri. In Jay Clarke, he also had an opponent in a different mould – one who wouldn’t be pushed to play first-strike tennis. What unfolded as a result was mostly attritional play.

Sumit Nagal

The Bengaluru Open win is set to rocket Sumit Nagal's ranking to a career high 225.   -  V Sreenivasa Murthy


It’s not uncommon for players to fall off the emotional cliff after having registered their biggest wins. But Sumit Nagal showed no such inclination even after two such victories as he claimed his maiden ATP Challenger title following a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 defeat of Jay Clarke in the final of the $100,000 Benglauru Open here on Saturday.

The victory made the 20-year-old richer by $14,400, but more importantly the 100 ranking points gained is set to rocket him into a career-high ranking of 225.

Nagal’s game wasn’t quite at the same level as it was in his thrashing of Yuki Bhambri. In Jay Clarke, he also had an opponent in a different mould – one who wouldn’t be pushed to play first-strike tennis. What unfolded as a result was mostly attritional play.

The Brit broke in the first game of the match but it didn’t last long as Nagal restored parity at 3-3. Each player played to the same set plan – to serve wide and drag the receiver out of position. Where Nagal scored was in creating doubts in his opponent’s mind during the rallies.

Clarke, at least in the initial games of the set, made multiple forays towards the net but was repeatedly passed. This forced him to hesitate even on occasions when he could have finished off the points early. He paid the price as Nagal broke to go 5-3 up and served out the set.

It was much of the same in the second as both players saved multiple break points in the first four games. But with Nagal’s play dropping a tad thereafter, Clarke took charge. He broke in the eighth game and duly served out the set.

In the third, Clarke decided to wear Nagal down, often moonballing to extract errors. It worked as the Indian lost his serve in the opening game. It was then that Nagal opted to force his way through. He broke thrice in succession and was particularly severe on Clarke’s second serve, winning eight of 13 points. 

Two of those earned him the breaks to first get back to 1-1 and then go ahead 3-1. Both were fierce inside-out return winners to which Clarke had no answer. Nagal did squander six game points before holding to 4-1, but with all of Clarke’s energy seemingly sapped out, the result was no more in question.

“It was an up and down match,” Nagal said later. “I was smart at times and not much as others. Clarke is a very consistent player; very good defender. Overall I am happy. I would rate this higher than the junior Wimbledon doubles title.”

The result:

Singles

Final: Sumit Nagal bt Jay Clarke (GBR) 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.