India's number one tennis player Sumit Nagal is experiencing a tough time financially and has come out to speak about his struggles publicly.
The 26-year-old revealed that after arranging cash to keep him afloat on the ATP tour, he is now down to just eighty thousand rupees in his account and in order to continue playing on the ATP Tour, he has invested all of his prize money, his IOCL (Indian Oil Corporation Limited) income, and the support he receives from the Maha Tennis Foundation.
"If I look at my bank balance, I have what I had at the beginning of the year. It is 900 euros. I did get a bit of help. Mr Prashant Sutar is helping me with MAHA Tennis Foundation and I also get monthly (salary) from IOCL but I don't have any big sponsor," Nagal told PTI in an interview.
The cost covers his lodging at the training facility in Peine as well as his travel to competitions with either his coach or a physiotherapist.
Nagal has earned nearly Rs. 65 lakh in 24 tournaments this year, with his greatest paycheck coming from the US Open, where he fell in the first round of the Qualifiers but still took home USD 22,000 (about Rs. 18 lakh).
"I am investing whatever I am making. The yearly cost where I travel with one coach is costing me around 80 lakh to 1 crore and that is just with one travelling coach (no physio). Whatever I have made I have already invested,” he said.
The professional player has been training at the Nansel Tennis Academy in Germany for a few years, but for the first three months of 2023 he couldn’t train there due to insufficient funds.
"I don't have anything in savings. I am just breaking even. I can not say I live a very good life or where I say I don't need to work. I did not earn anything in the last two years so I am happy that I am breaking even," Nagal said.
Speaking about the Indian players not getting enough financial support and proper guidance, he said, "We lack funding, we lack the system. If there is a system, there will be funding. China has money. We have potential like China. Why do we win just 5-6 medals in the Olympics but China won 38 gold (in Tokyo). We are 1.4 billion, we can match them in talent but why we do not make it to high level?
“The guidance is missing. In tennis, we are far away from competing at the top. I am improving. I do feel I have the game. If my body is good and I am playing tournaments, I feel I am ready (for a big leap)," he added.