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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday January 16, 2024

What a difference a year makes. Last September, India’s Sumit Nagal confessed that he started the year with about 900 Euros in his bank account. Not nearly enough to travel the globe as part of the ATP Tour, with a coach and all the other exorbitant expenses to pay, it wouldn’t be enough to allow the then 25-year-old to continue his career.

Tennis Express

Hearing or the news, big-time sponsors, such as Gatorade and the Delhi Lawn Tennis Association, stepped in and helped Nagal keep grinding. Now, here he is, into the second round of the Australian Open after an upset of No.31-seeded Alexander Bublik (6-4, 6-2, 7-6(5)).

On the strength of his run through qualifying and his first-round win, Nagal is $180,000 richer. He’s also made history for his country. On Tuesday Nagal became the first Indian player to defeat a seed at a major in singles since 1989.

“It's been emotional,” he told reporters after the match. “I've worked very hard with my team, and I'm very proud of myself to be able to handle the things that I'm going through and be able to perform the way I want to perform.”

Nagal, who now has nine career tour-level wins to his name, will face China’s Shang Juncheng in an all-qualifier battle in round two.

Nagal says that he wants to do his best to change Indian tennis for the better, so that more young people will have the chance to pursue a career in the sport. But for the moment, he is firmly focusing on the present, and enjoying a nice reprieve from the difficulties – financial and otherwise – of the tour.

“You have to kind of enjoy this,” he said. “It doesn't stay forever. You never know in tennis what happens next where you can go to a tournament and not even be able to put two balls in, and thank you very much. The tournament is over. So it changes very quickly.

“That's what my coach says: You have to enjoy the moment, live in the present.”