Determined Nagal wears crown in style

Indian downs Clarke in three-setter

Determined Nagal wears crown in style

Leading 3-1 in the final set, Sumit Nagal squandered six game points. In what was the longest game of the encounter, Jay Clarke produced a desperate fight. However, the Indian succeeded in the seventh opportunity and that virtually ended the Briton's best chance to make a comeback into the tie.

It was a fitting finish to Nagal's brilliant run as the Delhiite edged Clarke 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 to emerge champion of the Bengaluru Open USD 100,000 ATP Challenger here at the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association on Saturday.

Nagal, who broke into limelight with his junior Wimbledon doubles triumph in 2015, called his maiden Challenger title as his best performance. "This my best win. I am still in a bit of shock. I was really nervous before the tie. I told my trainer two hours before the game that my hands have already turned sweaty. He asked me to just play point by point and not think too much about the outcome," the elated 20-year-old told reporters after the match.

Broken in the very first game of the match, Nagal was slightly off-rhythm till the sixth game where he attacked Clarke's serve to draw level at 3-3. Nagal was on top when he started to create more openings for winners and he broke again to go 5-3 up. He then served neat to pocket the set.

Nagal, probably undone by the pressure of playing his biggest match, suffered a dip in the second set. Clarke, who rushed to the net often, got the decisive break in the eighth game to go up 5-3. Nagal's defensive tactic resulted in unforced errors and left him frustrated as the match went into the decider.

The start of the third set was a recap of the first. Nagal once again was broken in the very first game. The Indian, however, shrugged off the minor setback to produce a scintillating effort. A forehand down the line was followed by a powerful service return as Nagal drew level at 1-1. The youngster then got into a zone where he was brutal yet clinical in his shots. His backhand slices countered Clarke's attack and the Indian sent in towering forehand winners on every possible opportunity.

Down 2-5, Clarke's approach to go all-out failed and Nagal clinched the first point and dropped his racquet with a huge sigh of relief. The good number of fans at the stadium gave a standing ovation to the triumphant Nagal and he thanked their support. "It was an up and down match. But overall I am happy with my performance. I was shaky in some phases of the match but I also played smart. The crowd was amazing. Playing such an important match, I got the confidence from myself, my team and the crowd here," said Nagal, who got 100 points from his win.

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