MELBOURNE: Sumit Nagal, India’s top-ranked singles player, was left with less than a thousand dollars in his bank account at one point last year so it was no surprise he was beaming on Tuesday (Jan 16) after ensuring a bumper payday at the Australian Open.
The world number 137 had battled his way through three rounds of qualifying and in the first round proper guaranteed himself a cheque for at least A$180,000 (US$119,016) by stunning 31st seed Alexander Bublik 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(5) on a rowdy Court Six.
It was the biggest win of his career and he became the first Indian man in 35 years to beat a seeded player in a Grand Slam singles draw, matching Ramesh Krishnan’s feat in ousting defending champion Mats Wilander at Melbourne Park in 1989.
“Obviously, I’m not crying right now but at the same time it hasn’t completely sunk in,” the 26-year-old told reporters.
“These moments you’ll go through as an athlete. Sometimes you have a good year, sometimes a bad one.