Sumit Nagal’s promising start to his tennis career has impressed Leander Paes, although the veteran feels the real challenge for the 22-year-old will be to maintain an upward graph and sustain his fine form.

Nagal made headlines for his performance against none other than Roger Federer in the US Open. In the first round, Nagal beat Federer to take the first set 6-4, before the 20-time Grand Slam winner roared back to claim the next three sets 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. Nagal’s efforts fetched him compliments from the Indian sports fraternity, with legendary Paes leading the pack.

“It was a fantastic performance. I have seen Sumit for many years now. Even before he won the junior Wimbledon doubles, I had worked with him in the Canada,” Paes told reporters during the promotion of the Tennis Premier League. “Not just that his backhand strokes which are so nice, not just that his legs which are so powerful, I felt he had tremendous talent. The real challenge for Sumit is going to be to sustain that quality performance.”

The one aspect of Nagal’s game, which Paes liked the most was the way the youngster held his own against a great like Federer.

“To qualify for US Open is fantastic, I have been there myself, to see him do that and to see him play Roger Federer on the main court is a very daunting task and I thought he handled himself very well,” Paes said.

Besides Nagal, Paes also lauded Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Ramkumar Ramanathan – who recently bowed out of the ATP Challenger in Glasgow on Saturday. Ramanathan, seeded fifth, took a 5-7, 6-1, 4-6 defeat at the hands of Germany’s Alexandre Muller in the semifinal, managing to bag 29 ATP points and EUR 2160, and Paes is confident with the way the 24-year-old is progressing in the tennis circuit.

“Likewise if you see his contemporaries like Ramkumar Ramanathan, he had a great run in Newport (Hall of Fame Classic grass court tournament) last year when he got into the final and should have won the final but lost to Steve Johnson,” Paes said.

“Ram has had some good results in challengers, had some decent results in 250s, he did really well in Maharashtra Open where he played against Marin Cilic.

“Likewise you see Prajnesh (Gunneswaran), tally lefty, big serve, he’s also developing well and had some really good results. For all this boys, the consistency of their performance is really the call of the day.”