TennisWorld USA recently got a chance to speak with Sumit Nagal, India’s top-ranked singles player, who is ranked 127th in the world. The 22-year-old attained a career-high of 125 in the ATP singles ranking in the first week of February 2020 before the season eventually shut down, nearly a month later.
Nagal’s last tournament on the circuit came in India’s Davis Cup qualifier against Croatia – in the reverse singles rubber against Marin Cilic. In this conversation, Nagal addressed several concerns, from the resumption of the Tour this year – and if it will – to the help Indian tennis players would need once the situation somewhat stabilised.
Here’s what he had to say: The ATP recently announced that it would play players ranked between 101-500 will receive $8650 in two instalments as part of its fund for players. Do you think this amount will be adequate for players to tide over while the season is still paused? “So, we getting $8650 is not going to change anything, to be honest.
This is what most of the people (players) spend in a month. So, it’s going to be gone very fast. But at least, it’s nice to see ATP try something. It’s a start. But if your question is, if it’s going to help us till the schedule is paused, then no, it’s not going to help us much”.
Should this help have come sooner? “It’s not easy for any of the companies right now to sit down and to come with solution because you, kind of don’t know when you are going to get a chance to go out.
And, looking at tennis which is a global sport where you have to consider 150 countries in your mind before you can make a decision, it’s definitely not easy. “We don’t know where the money is coming from.
They are saying the ATP (is helping) a bit, here and there and the WTA is sending this (financial help). But I think the Slams should have done way more than what they are doing right now. They are… not even a per cent of what they earn, every year”.
Sumit Nagal on how AITA could help Indian Players
Concerning help from the AITA, what kind of help will Indian players need? And once tennis resumes, what do you think will be the major challenges for Indian players? And what needs to be done to address the same? “From AITA what they need, is they need to trust (the players), show some care for their players and build a system.
All these three things are missing. And I think it’s very important for a sportsperson to have that their association is backing them or their association is trying to make him or her the best possible player they can be in their life.
But I think that’s what missing from our country and the challenges we are going to face – it’s not only for us but a lot of other people (players) is that nobody is going to have earnings. “So, how do you start playing tournaments when you have already lost so much money? So, I think it would be nice if AITA could push ITF to hold some Futures for some lower-ranked players.
Because I think people who are a little higher (in the rankings) can still survive. If you ranked around 100-120, you can still survive by not playing, by not earning for a few weeks and months. But players who are lower-ranked, who play Futures and goes in minus (in earnings, every week), for them, it’s going to be very tough.
So, I think it will be nice to see AITA fight for some Futures to host in India”. How have you been managing during the ongoing lockdown? You are based in Germany; how have you been training? “I have been training – we were allowed to train after a few weeks; any sports professional (here) was allowed to train.
I am ok with it (the lockdown). I am enjoying (training). I don’t mind the lockdown to be honest. Like this, I got to work on my game a lot. Work on stuff that I needed to work because I didn’t have much time last year to take a pause and fix (a) few things”.
What are your immediate plans for once the season resumes? How have your goals for this season changed? “I don’t have the goals for this year, right now because I don’t know if we are going to get a chance to play or not.
What’s going to happen once it (the tennis season) resumes, I think everyone’s trying to play as many tournaments as they can because let’s say, if it opens up in September-October, it’s going to be three months before Australia starts so it’s going to look to play as many matches as possible so they are ready for the tournaments”.
Lastly, do you see the season resuming in 2020? If so, how comfortable will you be about travelling across countries and continents for tournaments? “To be honest, it’s more like 80% no and 20% yes. And, I think if it opens, it will be around October but definitely with Challengers, nothing big… I really, really doubt it.
And, if the Challengers are going to happen, I think what they are trying to do is host the Challengers in every continent. So, if that happens, I think I am going to decide to stay on one continent and play those Challengers.
Travelling around is going to be tough this year because (of) different countries (having) different rules”. Sumit Nagal's best result in this truncated season came at the Bengaluru Tennis Open in February. He reached the pre-quarter-finals losing to Slovenian Blaz Rola.