On Tuesday, Indian tennis and its entire community rejoiced as Sumit Nagal achieved the most significant milestone of his singles career. Nagal who is also the highest-ranked Indian singles player, eliminated World No. 27 Alexander Bublik in the first round of the Australian Open. Seeded 31st, Bublik was surprised by Nagal, who is ranked 110 positions behind him and his aggressive style of play.
This victory stands out as a historic moment in Indian tennis history, with 26-year-old Nagal becoming the first Indian to defeat a seeded opponent in a Grand Slam since Ramesh Krishnan’s memorable win over Mats Wilander in the 1989 Australian Open. Nagal was once associated with the Virat Kohli Foundation, and Kohli’s backing has become a part of a legendary narrative. In a 2019 interview, Nagal disclosed how Kohli and his foundation supported him during challenging times, including a period when he had only 6 USD to his name.
From struggling to afford flight tickets to now securing at least INR 98 lakh, even after four years, Nagal made sure to acknowledge Kohli. On November 15, when Kohli achieved a historic milestone by scoring his 50th ODI century, Nagal was among the many who extended congratulations. Hence, it is needless to say that the admiration and appreciation persist.
“I speak to him once in a while. I was also a part of his foundation. Thanks to him for all those years. You know, which Indian doesn’t like cricket? I follow it and watch it whenever I get a chance, yeah,” Nagal told reporters after beating Bublik.
The last 12-18 months had been both good and bad: Nagal
Nagal opened up about his recent struggles with injuries and shared his thoughts on observing Bublik engaging in animated conversations with himself and his team during the interval between the first and second serves.
“The last 12-18 months had been both good and bad. Bad due to my injury, and good because I learned a lot during my break. When I returned to the court after the injury, it made me a better and more mature player. I felt and understood tennis much better, and I think that is paying off on the courts,” he said while speaking to Sony Sports Network.