A Look at Sumit Nagal's Qualification for Paris Olympics 2024

Sumit Nagal is all ready to create headlines as he buckles up for a hectic summer. Next week, he'll make his Wimbledon main draw debut, and the following month, he will showcase India at the Paris Olympics. His journey to this point has been anything but smooth, marked by injuries and a substantial drop in his ATP singles ranking.

A Look at Sumit Nagal's Qualification for Paris Olympics 2024
Sumit Nagal (Credits - The Bridge)

At the commencement of the 2023 tennis season, Nagal was ranked 503rd in the ATP singles rankings. This was a sharp fall from his last position within the top 125, a decline which was caused by a series of injuries that included a hip surgery just a year prior. Regardless of these setbacks, Nagal made a determined comeback to the tennis circuit in 2023, hoping to stay longer this time without being side-lined by injuries.

By June 2024, Nagal had climbed back up the rankings to reach a career-best position of 71. Presently ranked 72nd in the world, this amazing ascent has secured him a spot in the main draw at the Paris Olympics starting next month. His journey back to the top has been fueled by a series of enthralling performances, including a remarkable win at the ATP Chennai Challenger in February. This victory made him the first Indian since Prajnesh Gunneswaran in 2019 to break into the top 100 singles rankings.

The 26-year-old from Jhajjar, Haryana, has been in fine form. The forthcoming Olympic Games will create his second appearance on the clay courts of Roland Garros this season. He made his French Open main draw debut last month, although his campaign was short-lived. Nagal faced a tough opponent in Karen Khachanov, the 18th seed, and lost in straight sets. Despite the defeat, Nagal found some rhythm in the third set, which he narrowly lost in a tiebreak. Reflecting on the match, he said, “I calmed down a bit. I had control on my nerves and I went more for my shots than what I had done in the first two sets. Now I know what I have to do when I play these kinds of matches.”

In the weeks leading up to the Olympics, Nagal will face various high-pressure matches. His main draw debut at Wimbledon next week is especially remarkable. Although he prefers playing on clay, Nagal has fond memories of Wimbledon, where he won the junior boys' doubles event in 2015. “It’s a good experience, it’s fun to play on grass,” Nagal said about Wimbledon. “I wouldn’t like it if I had to play there the whole year, but the tournament, it’s just about the vibe of being there. My career started when I won the junior Wimbledon title in doubles. So there are great memories there.”

Sumit Nagal's Road to Paris 2024: A Journey of Resilience and Determination

Sumit Nagal's Road to Paris 2024: A Journey of Resilience and Determination
Sumit Nagal (Credits - ATP Tour)

Following Wimbledon, Nagal will turn his attention to the Paris Olympics. Former India No. 1 Somdev Devvarman, who has been a legendary icon to Nagal, is optimistic about his chances. Devvarman strongly believes that the Paris Olympics could be a perfect stage for Nagal, given his preference for clay courts and the two-out-of-three sets format. “The Olympics could not have been in a better place [for Nagal],” said Devvarman. “Because clay is by far his favorite surface. It’s a time of the year where he’s had enough breaks by that point. So, he should be completely fresh.”

This will be Nagal’s second outing at the Olympics, having reached the second round at the deferred Tokyo edition in 2021. As he rises in the rankings, new opportunities and experiences are coming his way. In spite of these new challenges, Nagal remains committed to the routines that have helped him recover from numerous injuries. “I’ve just been taking more care of my body now,” he said. “Working a lot on my warm-ups and cool-downs and the rehab. That’s what’s been added to the list.”

Nagal’s journey has been one of resilience and persistence. After overcoming physical and mental challenges, he is now poised to make a substantial impact on the global stage. As the Paris Olympics approach, all eyes will be on him to see how far he can go.

Cover Credits - ATP Tour

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