Sumit Nagal on Friday made the cut for the men's singles event of the Tokyo Olympics as large-scale withdrawals pushed him inside the qualification mark and the Indian tennis player is now hoping that competing at the biggest stage will settle a "few things" that are bothering him in his career. (More Sports News)
The All India Tennis Association (AITA) promptly paired him with Rohan Bopanna for the men's doubles competition by withdrawing Divij Sharan's nomination since singles players are getting priority in entering the doubles draw.
Nagal was ranked 144 on June 14, when ATP rankings were to be considered for direct entries but consistent withdrawals helped him.
"I knew it (cut-off) was gonna drop. Things are different this year, compared to any other Olympics. Nonetheless, I feel very happy. I am getting a chance to represent the country. I can't complain much about it," Nagal said from Germany.
The 23-year-old Nagal will enter the Olympics with some disappointing results this season as he has suffered seven first round defeat on the Circuit, including at the Australian Open.
In six Challenger events, he made the quarterfinals only thrice.
His best performance has been making the quarterfinals of the ATP 250 event in Buenos Aires in March.
His ranking has dropped to 154 after beginning the year at 137.
"To be honest, I have been struggling with a few things, I am not going to name it. Getting into Olympics will hopefully change things in my career. It's going to be amazing experience. I will give my 100 per cent on the court."
Nagal did not share what was bothering him whether it was injury or some other health issue and also did not speak why he pulled out of Wimbledon.
"I am sorry I am not gonna talk much about it, it's in the past."
Asked if it was an easy decision to make, considering that he will have to let go of a few Pro events on the Tour, Nagal said significance of Olympic Games is unmatched.
"This wasn't easy because you have to change the schedule last minute but Olympics is Olympics. Olympics happens once in four years and Challengers happen every week, so there you go.
"My main goal was to play Olympics last year and If I get it this year, I will take that, no doubt of me looking other way."
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) communicated to the AITA on Friday morning that Nagal was eligible for men's singles, hours before the deadline for entries expires.
Till Thursday, the cut-off was in the range of 130 as Yuki Bhambri, with his protected ranking of 127, made the cut.
However, since he recently underwent a procedure on his right knee in the US, he has made himself unavailable and confirmed it to the PTI.
The stringent protocols under which the Games are being held and the fear of contracting the coronavirus has pushed many to withdraw, forcing the authorities to keep lowering the cut-off mark.
Prajnesh Gunneswaran was ranked 148 on June 14 and it remains to be seen if he also makes the cut by the time the deadline ends at 8:30pm IST.
"ITF has confirmed Nagal's entry for singles. We have approached IOA and requested to arrange for his accreditation," Anil Dhupar, AITA's secretary general, said.
Since the ITF is giving priority to singles players for filling up the men's doubles draw, AITA sniffed a chance to get a spot by fielding Nagal with Bopanna, who was earlier nominated with Divij Sharan.
Bopanna and Sharan, with a combined rank of 113, till Friday morning formed the fourth alternate team.
"We have withdrawn Divij Sharan's nomination and sent a new team to ITF. Let's see if Bopanna and Nagal can enter," Dhupar added.
It is imperative that Bopanna makes the cut for the men's doubles because it is highly unlikely that Nagal and Sania Mirza would make it to the mixed doubles event, which is a 16-team affair.
The ITF, as of now, has not confirmed if Bopanna and Nagal can enter the men's doubles.
"We are not in a position to speculate on doubles scenarios. Gunneswaran is still a few places below the cut-off," an ITF official told PTI.
As of now, only Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina are certain to compete in the women's doubles draw. Sania used her protected rank of nine to enter with Ankita.
All top-10 players get direct entry and have the privilege to choose a partner of their choice, who is ranked inside top-300.