On Tuesday, January 16, Indian tennis player Sumit Nagal scripted history by becoming the first player from the nation to defeat a seeded player in the Australian Open since 1989. The 26-year-old achieved this milestone by triumphing over Alexander Bublik from Kazakhstan in the opening round, securing a victory with a scoreline of 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 and advancing to the second round.
Sumit Nagal shares a unique connection with star Indian cricketer Virat Kohli, who has been supporting him since 2017. In light of Nagal’s historic win, an old interview has resurfaced where he expressed gratitude to the former India captain for backing him during a challenging financial period.
“Virat Kohli’s foundation has been supporting me since 2017. I haven’t been performing well for the last two years and was facing a financial crisis. If I didn’t have Virat Kohli supporting me, I don’t know what I would have done,” Sumit Nagal revealed in an interview with Bombay Times.
Emphasizing the significance of financial support for athletes in the country, Nagal stressed that such backing contributes to the flourishing of sports in India. He considers himself fortunate to have the support of Virat Kohli, which played a crucial role during a challenging phase in his career.
“Early this year (in 2019), when I was flying from Canada to Germany after a tournament, I had six dollars in my wallet… just six dollars after the help that I have been getting, so imagine what a mess I must have been before. But I survived, and things are getting better. If people fund athletes, it will only help the sport flourish in the country. I am fortunate to get that support from Virat,” Sumit Nagal added.
ALSO READ: Rishabh Pant Joins Vibrant Training Session in Bengaluru, Shares Laughter With Virat Kohli
The recent victory against Alexander Bublik marked Sumit Nagal’s first-ever progression from the Australian Open first round. In the 2021 edition, he faced defeat against Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis in the opening round. Currently ranked 139 in the world, Nagal had previously reached the second round of a Grand Slam event at the 2020 US Open but encountered a loss against the second seed, Dominic Thiem.