PUNE: Qualifier Sumit Nagal’s seven-match unbeaten run came to a grinding halt in Pune when the fellow qualifier from Belarus Ilya Ivashka, ranked seven places below the Indian, scored a routine 6-3, 6-3 win in the first round match on Court 1 at the ATP 250 Series Tata Open Maharashtra.
Having won the $50,000 ATP Challenger in Bengaluru last November before the winter break, much was expected from Nagal after he had won two matches in the qualifying tournament to create a place for himself in the main draw.
But Nagal failed to lift his game even as a packed house rooted for him. Ivashka, however, looked with more fresher legs as the Belarussian covered the court well to put Nagal on the backfoot early on.
Ivashka broke Nagal in the fourth game of the first set and then controlled the match from the baseline. As Ivashka pushed Nagal all over the court and engaged him in long rallies, the Indian committed a few unforced errors that cost him the first set after the 230th ranked Ivashka took 5-2 lead.
Serving to save the set, Nagal came out hard and fired a couple of backhand returns to take the eight game, but that made no difference to Ivashka’s approach as he took the first set 6-3.
It was second meeting between the 20-year-old Nagal and Ivashka with the Indian losing the first match at the same venue during the 2015 ATP Challenger event.
Nothing much changed in the second set as Ivashka broke Nagal in the first game before opening up a 2-0 lead.
Nagal failed to get any momentum and kept straying out of the court allowing Ivashka to keep control on the match. Nagal tried very hard but could not find a way to overcome his opponent. He lost serve in the very first game of the second set when he hit a forehand wide.
While Ivashka maintained the intensity, Nagal again faced a break point in the third game.
Desperate to save the point, he even argued with the chair umpire who overruled the wrong call from a lines’ umpire and asked to replay the point.
Nagal did save that point but was soon facing another.
Egged on by the crowd, Nagal finally got on board. Trailing by a set and a break, Nagal did not do any good to his cause by dropping serve in the fifth. The match was as good as over, however, Ivashka dropped serve while serving for the match.
Nagal’s struggle to put the ball in the court and was down 0-40, facing three match points. He lost with a double fault on the first as the Belarussian held his serve to wrap up the match in an hour and 21 minutes.
First round: q-Ilya Ivashka (Blr) bt q-Sumit Nagal (Ind) 6-3, 6-3; 5-Robin Haase (Ned) bt Blza Kavcic (Slo) 7-6 (8-6), 7-5; Laslo Djere (Srb) bt Marius Copil (Rou) 5-7, 6-4, 7-5; Yuki Bhambri (Ind) bt wc-Arjun Kadhe (Ind) 6-3, 6-4; q-Thiago Monterio (Bra) bt Ruben Bemelmans (Bel) 6-7(4-7), 6-3, 7-6(10-8).
First round: Pierre-Hugues Herbert (Fra) and Gilles Simon (Fra) bt Kevin Anderson (Rsa) and Jonathan Erlich (Isr) 3-6, 6-3, 10-5; 1-Robert Lindstedt (Swe) and Franko Skugor (Cro) bt Marton Fucsovics (Hun) and Mikhail Kukushkin (Kaz) 6-4, 6-1; Roman Jebavy (Cze) and Jiri Vesely (Cze) bt Radu Albot (Mda) and Tennys Sandgren (US) 6-4, 6-3; 4-Rohan Bopanna (Ind) and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan (Ind) bt Leander Paes (Ind) and Purav Raja (Ind) 6-3, 6-2.