How Virat Kohli Helped India's Tennis Star Sumit Nagal Save His Career

Indian tennis star Sumit Nagal made history on Tuesday, becoming the first player from the country to beat a seeded player in the Australian Open since 1989. Nagal defeated Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik in the opening round, securing a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 win to enter the second round. While Nagal registered his name in history with the win, all of this might not have been possible without the support of Indian cricket star Virat Kohli, who first lent the tennis ace a helping hand in 2017.

In an interview with the Bombay Times, Nagal revealed how Kohli and his foundation backed him in times when he was left with just 6 dollars in his pocket.

“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,” Nagal told Bombay Times.

“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,” he further added.

This would be Nagal’s first-ever progression from the Australian Open first round. In 2021, the Indian star suffered a defeat at the hands of Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis in the opening round, going down 2-6, 5-7, 3-6.

The world number 139, however, has played in the second round of a Grand Slam event before. Nagal did so in the 2020 US Open, where he had lost to second seed and eventual champion Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.

Ayaan Mans
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