Young Indian tennis star Sumit Nagal is unhappy with the kind of support being offered to him despite performing well at the big events.
The 22-year-old Nagal had impressed Roger Federer at the US Open in August this year taking a set off him in their first-round contest. He then carried his rich vein of form by making the final twice in ATP Challenger tournaments.
Nagal won the Buenos Aires Challenger on Sunday night and jumped to a career-best rank of 135. In the Argentinian city, Nagal had neither his coach by his side nor the physio.
“I was all alone here. No one was with me to help out. One way, it has been great that I have been playing good tennis but it’s not easy to do it and I’m really sad,” Nagal told PTI from Buenos Aires.
“The path is lonely despite doing well at the US Open. I qualified at 22 and led a set against Roger Federer but it still has not made impact anywhere. It’s really sad nobody is coming up to invest into tennis,” he added.
Nagal had earlier featured in the list of the government’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) but was later dropped. The scheme offers a monthly financial aid of Rs 50,000 to athletes who are medal prospects at the Olympics. Nagal’s annual budget amounts to the tune of 220,000 euros (Rs 1.5 crore).
Multiple Grand Slam title winner Mahesh Bhupathi, who mentored Nagal after hand-picking him from a tennis clinic, said if a player of the calibre of Nagal can’t get enough support, then it’s failure of the system.
“Sumit is obviously a special talent and it shows with what he has done in the last six months. When you see talent like him who are not nurtured and supported keeping in mind the coming Olympics or the next one, I consider it a colossal failure of the system,” Bhupathi fumed.
“Then no one has the right to ask later why India doesn’t produce champions.”
Nagal gets support from the Virat Kohli Foundation, but it does not cover all expenses. “They are providing a good amount but as you can see in tennis you need a team like all the top 100 players have – coach, fitness, physio etc which adds up,” said Bhupathi.
“I still have the exact budget which I had in 2018 when I was ranked 350. It’s that when I needed the most which is right now, I see people turning around and walking away.”
Nagal said that he’s deeply perturbed when people only make promises but when the time comes, they look the other side.
“I am still stuck. I have to find a way to get my coach on tour to help me. Most of the tournaments I did in summer was by myself. It’s funny how they say if you need any help let us know and when you actually ask them or write an email they don’t even bother replying to you,” he said.