Comeback man Nagal completes sensational return to Australian Open main draw | Tennis News

Indian tennis star Sumit Nagal continued his sensational return to the sport on Friday as he qualified for the 2024 Australian Open main draw after a gritty 6-4, 6-4 win against Alex Molcan of Slovakia at the Melbourne Park. This will be Nagal’s second main draw appearance at the Australian Open, first in three years, and fourth overall at a Grand Slam tournament.

Sumit Nagal is through to 2024 Australian Open main draw

Nagal, ranked 139th in the world, made the statement clear early on as he broke Molcan in his opening service game to race away to a 3-0 lead in the first set before his 26-year-old opponent broke back to level the score at 3-3 as the Indian lost his rhythm, registering 17 unforced errors in the first six games. Nagal, however, held his nerves to emerge on top in the second break point opportunity he grabbed in the 10th game as he won the opening set 6-4 in 51 minutes.

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Nagal stayed toe-to-toe with Molcan, who received treatment for a shoulder discomfort during the break, in the second set before breaking first in the eighth game, on his third break point opportunity in the set. However, the 26-year-old Indian showed signs of an injury concern on his hip as he called for a medical time-out and the discomfort came in his way of serving out the match. But he quickly recovered to secure a break back as Nagal wrapped up the match to win the final round of men’s qualification match.

Earlier in the tournament, Nagal, who was refused a wild card nomination by the All India Tennis Association (AITA) for the Australian Open after he opted out of the Davis Cup tie against Pakistan, took down Geoffrey Blancaneaux in his opening qualification game in Melbourne before beating Australian Edward Winter, a wild card, in the second qualifying match 6-3, 6-2 that lasted one hour and four minutes at the KIA Arena.

On Monday, Nagal will make his second main draw appearance at the Australian Open after 2021, when he earned a wild card entry, but incurred a straight-set loss against Ričardas Berankis. His other two main draw appearances were in the US Open in 2019, where he had made it through to the qualifiers before famously taking a set of Roger Federer in his opener, and in 2020, where he had featured in the second round.

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