India’s Sumit Nagal failed to repeat his opening round heroics as he bowed out of the Tokyo Olympics in the second round of the men’s singles tennis event on Monday. Nagal suffered a 2-6, 1-6 loss to World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev of Russia.
On Saturday, Nagal had become the first Indian to register a singles win in tennis at the Olympic Games since Leander Paes brought home the bronze 25 years ago at the Atlanta 1996 Games. But the gulf in the level between him and Medvedev showed in the second round; the Russian had very little trouble dispatching his Indian opponent.
It should be noted, however, that Sumit Nagal didn’t play a sub-par match by any means. The 23-year-old gave his best and did what was expected of him. But as the rankings suggest, Daniil Medvedev is simply a much better player than him at the moment.
Nagal was broken in the opening game of the match and thus had to chase a deficit right from the start. But Medvedev kept widening the gap, getting another break to win the first set 6-2.
The second set was more of the same, as Daniil Medvedev again broke in the opening game. He got a double break soon after to seal an easy straight-sets win for the loss of a mere three games.
Sumit Nagal hit more groundstroke winners in the match than his opponent, and made it to deuce multiple times in Medvedev’s service games. But as often seen in tennis, how you play on crucial points matters more than the way you play overall.
Nagal made a few too many unforced errors, many of them on big points, which is why he couldn’t keep the scoreline close against a player as consistent from the baseline as Daniil Medvedev.
The Indian’s sub-par serve didn’t help either, and he was put under pressure in almost every service game by Medvedev’s deep returns. The consistent power and pace from the baseline by the Russian was enough to make Nagal come unstuck.
Sumit Nagal was India’s last hope for a medal in tennis, as the pair of Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina lost in the opening round of the women’s doubles event. But Nagal can hold his head high since he gave a good account of himself in the two matches he played.