New Delhi: India needs to create a structure to produce top players in tennis, Sumit Nagal, the country's second-highest ranked men's singles player who has been awarded a wild card for next week's Australian Open, said on Tuesday.
"We have a long way to go. We need a structure, first. I think you must have heard a lot of people say that we don't have have a structure in India right now where we can create players who can perform at a high level," said Nagal when asked about when India would produce players who could break into the world's top 10 in singles, in a virtual interaction with the media.
Nagal, 23, said that he expected to take on a top-10 player once again at the Australia Open, starting on February 8. The draw is set to be made on Thursday.
"I was talking about this with my coach last [Monday] night and I have a feeling that I will play a top-10 player. It's my gut feeling. Let's see what happens," he said.
Nagal, who is ranked second behind Prajnesh Gunneswaran in India, said he is looking to copy Thiem as much as possible. "To try to match what [Roger] Federer does is very, very difficult. What I have learnt from him is how he understands himself and how he reads games. He will never make the same mistake twice, he is that good," he said.
Nagal faced Austrian world No.3 Dominic Thiem and Swiss great Federer in his last two outings at the US Open.
"I felt I could learn a lot from Thiem. I would like to play the way he plays. He has got a very good back hand, serves well and has a good forehand. His intensity in his movements are really high. That's something I would love to have in my game and to be honest I am trying to copy him a lot," he said.
Nagal has little match practice ahead of the Australian Open. He was knocked out in the first round of the Murray River Open on Monday. It was his first tournament since the Hamburg Challenger in October 2020.
"I ended the last season a month earlier and then I tried coming back, I was not ready. There is nothing I can change, I can't control my past. I am trying to practice as much as possible and get better every day, so I am ready for Australian Open," he said.
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