In late November, news got out that India’s best men’s singles player Sumit Nagal had informed the All India Tennis Association that he wouldn’t be participating in February’s Davis Cup Group I play-off tie in Pakistan. He was joined by India’s next best Sasi Mukund in this decision.
Twenty-six-year-old Nagal is currently ranked 138th in the ATP chart and reportedly pulled out of the tie as the grass courts on which the matches will be held do not suit his playing style.
The decision drew some criticism, with AITA secretary general Anil Dhupar telling PTI:
“This is wrong. When it’s a question of serving the country why would you not do it? I have put the matter in the hands of the Executive Committee. There is no choice for players if they want to represent India. My theory is simple. But I am nobody to take a call. The call has to be taken by the Executive Committee.”
Now, in an interview with the Hindustan Times, Sumit Nagal has defended his decision. The player pointed out that many big names in the sport, including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic, had made the choice to skip the Davis Cup multiple times in their careers.
“I think having the old Davis Cup format was much more fun for everyone,” Sumit said. “I do understand from both sides, sometimes a week can change your life on tour. Everyone has their personal preferences. Roger, Rafa and Djoko and many many more didn’t play Davis Cup for years and years but that doesn’t make them a bad player or a bad person. I am sure they have their reasons as well.”
Sumit Nagal on participating in the Tennis Premier League
After a shaky couple of years, Sumit Nagal has proven his mettle again in 2023. In April this year, he won the Garden Open that was held in Rome, becoming the first Indian to clinch a Challenger title on European clay. He followed this up with another win in July, this time at the Tampere Challenger in Finland.
Despite the success he’s had, the Indian opened up about financial hardships in September, leading to an outpouring of support.
Nagal is the most expensive player in the Tennis Premier League, with the Gujarat Panthers having recruited him for 18.5 lakhs. Speaking on participating in the event, he told Hindustan Times,
“I am very excited to be a part of the Tennis Premier League. It’s going to be absolutely fun and great for Indian tennis.”
“The league is doing a good job to help the players as much as possible. It’s not an easy task to get funding for tennis in India so hats off to them and the sponsors to come out and do this,” he added.
The Tennis Premier League kicks off on December 12 and Sumit Nagal’s team will be in action on the same day against the Mumbai Leon Army.