Nagal looking to shape a turnaround

Nagal looking to shape a turnaround

A lot can happen in a year, especially in the world of sports. Last November, Sumit Nagal realised a major childhood dream when he triumphed in the Bengaluru Open — his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title.

That trophy, which came following a wonderful season where he won four ITF Futures titles, was supposed to act as a launching pad towards more glory this season for the talented 21-year-old. His year-end rankings had jumped from 334 to 225. He had also met renowned coach Javier Ferrer here at the KSLTA courts and decided to start a new journey under him.

But the association with Ferrer didn’t go as intended and that ended up taking a toll on his game. In 15 ATP Challenger events he has competed this season, the 2015 Wimbledon junior doubles champion was able to get past the opening round just twice — shocking returns for a player who showed so much promise in 2017.

“Last year, I was with a different team. In February this year, I started working with somebody else (Javier Ferrer). It was a new venture and it didn’t work too well. My whole summer went in sorting that out, trying to figure out things,” admitted Nagal, whose rankings have now plummeted to 309, after kick-starting his title defence with a scratchy 6-4, 7-5 win over Jay Clarke.

“So in September, I decided to change things. I quit Ferrer and started working with a fitness trainer — Milos Galecic from Serbia — who was working with Somdev (Devvarman). It’s been going good so far.”

Nagal felt it is not possible to change his game completely mid-season but said minor tweaks after roping in Galecic has helped him rediscover the passion and love for the game. “I think they are more professional. Also, I’m enjoying my tennis more now, which wasn’t the case in the summer.

"It’s small, small things but they make a big difference. I was also going through shoulder problems and there were weeks when I wasn’t fit but because I wanted to break into top 200, I kept pushing and it didn’t work well. Now, I’ve become more sensible. It’s not easy to change things drastically when the season is going but once it’s done in the next few weeks, I’ll be working on a few things.

“One of the biggest things I am looking at is maintaining focus. If you see a lot of my past matches, I’ve been a set up and a break up in the second set and somehow I lose the second and then the third set. Today I won the first and was a break up in the second and he broke me back. At that stage I told myself ‘C’mon man this time you’ve got to do it’. I kept focusing on myself. I’m happy and this has been the most important thing that I’ve been working on. Like I said, last few matches have been up and down.”

Nagal conquered the opening round barrier in fighting fashion for a third time this season on Monday. He’ll be looking to run deeper and finish a disappointing year on a high.