The 136th-ranked Indian won 6-2, 6-1 to set up an opening-round clash with fellow qualifier 28-year-old Slovakian Josef Kovalik, ranked 124th on the ATP. Kovalik has never gone beyond the first round of a Grand Slam singles event in his nine outings since 2016.
The Haryana-born Nagal had defeated local player Andrea Pellegrino 6-3, 6-4 in the opening round of the qualifiers in Cagliari and now would be looking forward to carrying on the form he showed at the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires last month where he scalped the world No. 22 Cristian Garin of Chile --- his maiden win over a top-25 player --- to enter the quarter-finals.
He eventually lost to Albert Ramos-Vinolas, the fifth seed from Spain, in three sets in Buenos Aires.
Over the last couple of years, Nagal has been aiming to consistently play more ATP 250, 500 and bigger tournaments to improve his singles ranking and enter the top-100 club. His performance has kept on improving ever since he won his maiden Challenger title in 2017.
The 23-year-old made his Grand Slam debut at the 2019 US Open, notched his first Grand Slam victory at the 2020 US Open and got a wild card entry into the Australian Open this year.
The legendary doubles specialist and former Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi has gone on record saying that Nagal will most certainly break into the top-100 of the world rankings very soon.