Sumit Nagal defeated Luca Nardi 6-1, 6-4 in the Chennai Open final on Sunday to achieve a significant milestone in his career as he guaranteed himself a Top 100 debut in next week’s ATP Rankings.
Nagal, ranked 121 at the start of the event, did not drop a set in any of his five matches as he clinched his fifth title on the ATP Challenger Tour while also becoming the first Indian since Prajnesh Gunneswaran in 2019 to break the Top 100 barrier. Coincidentally, Prajnesh had also made it to the Top 100 club after reaching the semifinals of the same event.
Around 700 spectators turned up for the summit clash at the SDAT Stadium on a pleasant Sunday evening and Nagal, seeded second, did not disappoint.
Nardi, the top-seeded Italian who was also eyeing a Top 100 debut, seemed to be struggling from the after effects of Saturday’s three-hour long semifinal and had three terrible forehand shanks in the first five points. Nagal broke him in the second and sixth games to pocket the opener.
Nagal consistently peppered the weak backhand of the 20-year-old Italian. Nardi’s attempt to shorten the points with drop shots also bore no fruit. He did bounce back twice from a break down in the second set. However, the Indian broke him to love and earned the chance to close the match at 5-4.
Just when it looked that Nardi would level things up again, Nagal saved two break points before hitting a clean forehand winner down the line. On match point, he served wide into the ad court with Nardi’s backhand return sailing well past the baseline.
An emotional Nagal, who entered the same event last year while being ranked outside the Top 500 and needed a qualifying wildcard, dropped his racquet and spread his arms to let the moment sink in before rushing to his player box to hug his fitness trainer Milos Galecic, and mentor and former World No. 62 Somdev Devvarman.
From Chennai, the caravan moves to Bengaluru for another 133,250 USD Challenger event which starts from Monday.
For the first time ever, the ATP is providing partial monetary support for the conduct of all four Challenger events in the country.
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