Sumit Nagal on Saturday became only the third Indian to win a men's singles match at the Olympic Games and the first in 25 years, when he beat Denis Istomin 6-4 6-7(6) 6-4 at the Tokyo 2020 games. Nagal beat Istomin in two hours and 34 minutes on court 10 at the Ariake Tennis Centre in Tokyo to set up a second round with world No.2 Daniil Medvedev.
Zeeshan Ali was the first Indian to win a singles match at the 1988 Seoul Games when he beat Victo Caballero from Paraguay. After that, Leander Paes won the historic men's singles bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Games, beating Brazil's Fernando Meligeni.
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No Indian could win a singles match after Paes' feat even as Somdev Devvarman and Vishnu Vardhan competed at the 2012 Games in London but did not manage to go beyond the first round.
The 23-year-old Nagal, who did not come into the Games in his best form, had a break opportunity in the sixth game of the opening set but could not convert. The Indian, though, 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 dropped serve when he was up 5-3. The experienced Istomin forced a decider by winning the tie-breaker.
The final set was on serve till Nagal got the decisive break.
Nagal will next face Australian Open runner-up Medvedev, who beat Kazakhstan's Alexander Bubilk 6-4 7-6(8).