Sumit Nagal became the third Indian tennis player in 25 years to win a men’s singles match at the Olympic Games after beating Denis Istomin in a three-setter in Tokyo. Nagal got the better of Istomin 6-4 6-7(6) 6-4 in two hours and 34 minutes.
Before Nagal, Zeeshan Ali and the legendary Leander Paes were the only Indians to win a singles match title. At the 1988 Seoul Games, Ali became the first Indian to win a singles match after beating Victo Caballero from Paraguay. Following that, Leander Paes won the men’s singles bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Games, beating Brazil’s Fernando Meligeni.
No other Indian could win a singles match after Paes’ heroic feat.
Nagal now has a herculean task ahead of him as he takes on Australian Open runner-up Medvedev, who beat Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bubilk 6-4 7-6(8).
The 23-year-old was not in the best of form when entering the tournament and had a break opportunity in the sixth game of the opening set but could not convert it.
However, he did not squander the opportunity when Istomin was serving to stay in the set. An early break pushed Nagal ahead 2-0 in the second set in which he raced to a 4-1 lead but perhaps nerves got the better of him when he was serving for the match, up 5-3, where he dropped his serve.
Istomin, the veteran forced a decider by prevailing in the tie-breaker as the final set was decided on serve till Nagal got the decisive break.
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