India’s Sumit Nagal left the Australian Open with a first-round defeat and battled the powerful game of Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis on Tuesday.
Nagal’s challenge subsided within minutes when Berankis’ powerful ground hits proved too good for the Indian, who lost 2-6 5-7 3-6 in two hours and 10 minutes.
Nagal had also lost to number 72 in the world at the tuning event last week.
Nagal, 23, dropped out four games in a row in the second set to make a comeback, but Berankis’ initial dominance largely determined the outcome of the game.
While Nagal made an impression in his last two Grand Slam appearances, the world number 144 was only able to play well in patches on Tuesday.
The precise and solid ground strokes from Berankis let Nagal play defensively.
He fought hard and played better as the game progressed, but Berankis did not falter on key points.
Serving 2-3, the Indian hit one forehand to give Berankis three break points in the sixth game, and the Lithuanian turned the second into a 4-2 with a forehand winner.
Nagal himself had three chances to draw the first blood in the third game and rose 40-0 on Berankis’ serve, but couldn’t convert any.
The Indian tried to fight fires with fire, but the intensity Berankis showed blew him away and he found himself staying on the set.
Berankis also dominated the process in the second movement. Two breaks brought Nagal back and he went back 4-0.
Nagal struggled to get on the board, missing two breakpoints offered by Berankis in game five, but managed to break his rival in that game.
As he started playing more aggressively, Nagal found a way to scratch his way back and do it 4-4.
Berankis was to blame for casual mistakes during this brief period and gave Nagal easy points.
However, Berankis won key points to make sure he was on the right side of the result.
India’s singles challenge is over and now all eyes will be on doubles players – Rohan Bopanna, Divij Sharan and Ankita Raina.