From ₹80,000 in bank to ₹98 lakh after 1 win: Will Sumit Nagal’s penury end? | Tennis News

Less than four months ago, stories of Sumit Nagal’s penury flooded the internet. The No.1-ranked Indian player in men’s singles was struggling to fund his coach and keep his training going. After investing whatever he had earned through playing in different tournaments, the salary from IOCL and the support he gets from Maha Tennis Foundation, Nagal said he had about 80000 left in the bank account. He couldn’t train at his preferred Nansel Tennis Academy in Germany for the first few months of 2023.

India’s Sumit Nagal hits a return against Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik during their men’s singles match on day three of the Australian Open(AFP)

To stay and play on the extravagant ATP Tour, a player needs a sponsor. Nagal had none. He couldn’t even afford a personal physio as travelling with only one coach, drained his finances. Things didn’t change much in the latter half of 2023. He somehow managed to train Germany with help from a few friends but on the professional front, received a blow from the All India Tennis Association. They didn’t give him a wild card entry for the year’s first Grand Slam in Australia as the player had decided to pull out of the Davis Cup.

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Nagal was forced to play in the qualifying rounds Advancing to the main rounds was not only important for his reputation but also his survival as an ATP-circuit player. He needed to win some matches in the qualifying rounds. The prize money for participating in the qualifying rounds was $31,250 ($ denotes AUD). If he won the first qualifying match, it would rise to $44,100 and another win would fetch him $65,000.

He won three tough matches on the trot to enter the main rounds of the Australian Open 2024. This also ensured him a prize money of at least $120,000. He was guaranteed that amount even if he had lost to Alexander Bublik in the opening round.

But the 26-year-old had other ideas. The unseeded World No. 137, punched way above his weight to knock out the World No.27. He beat Bublik, the lanky Kazakh seeded 31st in the tournament, in straight games 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 in a fantastic display of tennis that would be remembered for a long time. He became the first Indian men’s tennis player in 35 years to beat a seeded athlete in a Grand Slam. This was also the first time an Indian player would participate in the second round of the men’s singles at the Australian Open since Somdev Devvarman in 2013.

Apart from the historical achievement and the records that it broke, the victory also ensured a prize money of $180,000 for Nagal. If you are Nagal that is equally important, if not more for your future as a singles tennis player vying to make it big in the ATP circuit.

The revised prize money for this year’s Australian Open came to Nadal’s aid. The 2024 Australian Open Champion will receive a 5.9% increase in prize money from last year. The runner-up gets a 6.15% increase. The early-round losers see the largest percentage increases, with first-round losers bagging themselves 12.94% more than 2023. With Nagal reaching the 2nd round, he will get 13.31 % more than what players had received in 2023.

Nagal will next face wildcard Juncheng Shang of China in the second round of men’s singles. If he trumps him then he will pocket at least $255,000. It might not be enough to put an end Nagal’s penury as a professional tennis player but the magnitude of his achievement will surely get heads rolling.

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