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Sumit Nagal creates history at Australian Open 2024: Did you know Virat Kohli saved tennis star's career?

Indian tennis ace Sumit Nagal stunned world number 27 Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan in straight sets to enter the Australian Open 2024 second round for the first time in his career on Tuesday.

Sumit Nagal creates history at Australian Open 2024: Did you know Virat Kohli saved tennis star's career? snt
First Published Jan 16, 2024, 1:15 PM IST

Indian tennis sensation Sumit Nagal made a stunning entry into the second round of the Australian Open 2024 by defeating world number 27 Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan in straight sets on Tuesday. The 26-year-old, who earned his spot in the main draw through the qualifiers, secured a remarkable victory against the 31st seed with a scoreline of 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(7-5) in a challenging match lasting two hours and 38 minutes. This achievement marks Nagal's first-ever entry into the Australian Open's second round in his career.

This marks Nagal's inaugural advancement to the second round of the Australian Open. In the 2021 edition, he suffered a defeat in the opening round against Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis, with a scoreline of 2-6, 5-7, 3-6.

Ranked 139th in the world, the Indian player is set to compete in the second round of a Grand Slam event for only the second time in his career. His previous appearance in the second round occurred at the 2020 US Open, where he faced a formidable opponent in the form of second seed and eventual champion Dominic Thiem, resulting in a 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 loss.

Tuesday's victory marked a historic moment, as it was the first time in 35 years that an Indian player defeated a seeded opponent in a Grand Slam. The most recent occurrence of such a feat transpired in 1989 when Ramesh Krishnan secured a victory against Mats Wilander, who was the reigning champion and world number one at the Australian Open.

In an earlier interview, Sumit Nagal revealed that he received financial support from Virat Kohli during a tough phase in his career. In an interview with Times of India, the tennis ace said that once he just had six dollars in his pocket while flying from Canada to Germany and it was Kohli's foundation that came to his rescue in 2017.

"Virat Kohli’s foundation has been supporting me since 2017. I haven’t been performing well for the last two years and was facing a financial crisis. If I didn’t have Virat Kohli supporting me, I don’t know what I would have done," Nagal had said.

Also read: When Virat Kohli, Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya danced at Eden Gardens; unseen video goes viral (WATCH)

"Early this year, when I was flying from Canada to Germany after a tournament, I had six dollars in my wallet… just six dollars after the help that I have been getting, so imagine what a mess I must have been before. But I survived, and things are getting better. If people fund athletes, it will only help the sport flourish in the country. I am fortunate to get that support from Virat," he had added.

In Tuesday's clash against Bublik, Nagal made a strong opening by breaking the World No. 27 in the initial game, but he couldn't maintain his own serve, resulting in a 1-1 scoreline.

Subsequently, Nagal exhibited impressive gameplay, securing two more breaks of his opponent's serve in the first set, ultimately winning it 6-4 in 42 minutes. The second set saw Nagal elevate his performance, breaking his opponent's serve twice and holding his own to secure a 6-2 victory in 43 minutes.

In the third set, both players held their serves until the seventh game when Nagal managed to break his opponent, gaining a 4-3 lead and further advancing to 5-3. Serving for the match at 5-4, Nagal faced a setback as he couldn't hold, leading the set to a tie-breaker, which he eventually won 7-5.

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