Sumit Nagal (men’s singles)
Ranking: 144 (as of June 14, 2021)
Form guide: 2021: ATP 250 Buenos Aires quarterfinalist, Australian Open first-round; 2020: US Open second round
Main rivals: Djokovic, Zverev, Murray, Tsitsipas, Fognini, Nishikori, Hurkacz, Medvedev, Rublev, Khachanov, Karatsev, Carreno Busta, Auger-Aliassime, Cilic, Monfils, Humbert, Basilashvili, Davidovich Fokina, Tiafoe
A string of pullouts has given Sumit Nagal an opportunity of a lifetime to compete at the Tokyo Olympics. It will arguably be the most high-profile event he has ever competed in, and the 23-year-old will be hoping it can turbo-charge a career that appears to have hit a rut.
Since making the quarterfinals at the ATP 250 event in Buenos Aires in early March, the 23-year-old has a win-loss record of 12-11. He lost in the French Open qualifiers and didn’t make the trip to London for Wimbledon.
The US Open was a source of great happiness last year as he won his maiden Grand Slam singles match, a first by an Indian in seven years. A good showing at the Olympics can set him up well for the North American hard-court swing leading into the final Grand Slam of the year.
The competition in Tokyo, though, will be cut-throat. There have been high-profile pullouts, but the field still resembles that of an ATP Masters 1000 event, a level that will be a significant step-up for Nagal. Nine of the world’s top-15 players are vying for top honours, with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Matteo Berrettini and Denis Shapovalov among the notable absentees.
Interestingly, Nagal, as a junior, had beaten the likes of Berrettini (Wimbledon 2021 finalist), Shapovalov and Hubert Hurkacz (Wimbledon 2021 semifinalists). A repeat act against players of that pedigree looks improbable, but a win or two against those in the rung slightly below will do Nagal a world of good.