Sumit Nagal, India’s lone hope in men’s tennis singles, defeated Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-4 in the first round of the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday at the Ariake Tennis Court.
Nagal’s victory was the first for an Indian men’s singles tennis player since Leander Paes’ bronze medal run in Atlanta in 1996.
Nagal won the first set 6-4 in 42 minutes but lost the second set 71 minutes later in a tie-breaker. He, on the other hand, battled back to win the deciding set 6-4 in 41 minutes.
The 34-year-old Istomin, who is ranked 197th in the world, was no match for his Indian opponent, who is ranked 37 places higher.
Nagal was more agile and covered more ground on the court.
Istomin had 17 aces to Nagal’s eight. The Indian also had nine double faults compared to three.
However, Nagal outperformed his Uzbek opponent in break-points and induced errors.
Istomin had 32 forced errors compared to Nagal’s 17. In addition, the Indian won 10 out of 10 net points, while his opponent only won five out of nine.
Nagal converted four of the five break-points he received – an 80 percent conversion rate – whereas Istomin converted only two of the fourteen he received – a 14 percent conversion rate.