Sumit Nagal will continue to get better, says mentor Mahesh Bhupathi

Mahesh Bhupathi feels Nagal needs to focus on finding a way to giving less free points. Arjuna awardee Sandeep Kirtane backs him to get into the top 50.

Sumit Nagal (India) returns a shot to Dominic Thiem (Austria) during the second round of the US Open in New York on Thursday.   -  AP


Multiple Grand Slam champion Mahesh Bhupathi, who has mentored Sumit Nagal from 2008, was happy with the progress of the young man, who has managed to hold centre stage at the US Open for the second year in a row.

The match against Roger Federer gave him a taste of the Grand Slam centre court last year in New York. And this time around, the 124th-ranked Sumit has gained conviction about his ability to compete with the best; as he did against World No. 3 Dominic Thiem.

“From last year, Sumit has become better, faster, fitter, stronger and smarter. Playing against one of the favourites, he was able to hold his own for a specific period of time,” said Mahesh from London.

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Mahesh was pragmatic as he put things in perspective. “From his perspective, I think, he is just about maturing as a player. Playing big matches on the big courts is very different from playing the Challengers. So, he just needs to focus on finding a way to giving less free points. He will definitely continue to get better,” he added.

Interestingly, the 23-year-old Sumit who is now supported by Virat Kohli Foundation, had pleaded for his inclusion into the Apollo Tyres tennis scheme initiated by Mahesh, to spot and train future Grand Slam Champions in 2008 after the selectors ignored him.

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Seeing the boy’s talent and his hunger for excellence, Mahesh had persisted with him even after the scheme closed.

“He needs to improve his serve and net game. His forehand is world class. He is a great mover, and a gutsy player with a fierce attitude. He has the capability to be in the top 50-60 of world rank,” said Arjuna awardee Sandeep Kirtane.

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