Three out of the four Indian tennis players in the qualifying draw of the US Open, the last Grand Slam of the year, went down in the first round after three-set battles on Tuesday night. Indian tennis players’ struggle at the Grand Slam events continued. Both Sumit Nagal and Ramkumar Ramanathan lost their respective first-round men’s singles qualifier matches. Also, Ankita Raina bowed out after losing her first round encounter in women’s singles qualifiers to American Jamie Loeb.
Bad day in office for Indian tennis players.
Ankita Raina, Sumit Nagal & Ramkumar Ramanathan crash OUT in 1st round of Qualifying at #USOpen .
Only Prajnesh Gunneswaran left in the fray now. pic.twitter.com/ONdw0uLcEp
— India_AllSports (@India_AllSports) August 25, 2021
Sumit Nagal, who had made his Grand Slam debut at US Open in 2019 memorably against Roger Federer and won a match last year, before going down to eventual champion Dominic Thiem in second round, couldn’t get a direct entry into the main draw this year. The world No 165 went down 5-7, 6-4, 3-6 to the much lower ranked Juan Pablo Ficovich in just over two hours.
Nagal played in the Australian Open main draw early this year and had lost in the first round. Additionally, he could not qualify for the French Open and missed the Wimbledon qualifiers due to an injury.
Meanwhile, Ramkumar Ramanathan went down fighting to the 30th seed Evgeny Donskoy 6-4, 6-7(1), 4-6 despite taking the first set. This was Ramkumar’s 21st attempt to qualify for the singles main draw of a Grand Slam since 2014. He is yet to play a singles main draw match but made his Grand Slam debut in mixed doubles at Wimbledon. However, he also lost a tight battle in the last round of singles qualifying.
Ankita Raina, the only Indian in the women’s singles draw, lost to Jamie Loeb of USA 3-6, 6-2, 4-6. She made a comeback in the second set but was unable to make it count against a player ranked one place below her at world No 194. She made her Grand Slam debut in doubles at Australian Open and played both doubles events at Wimbledon, but is yet to play a singles match at a Major event.
Prajnesh Guneswaran is the only Indian left in the men’s singles qualifiers. The left-hander is up against Canadian Brayden Schnur later on Wednesday.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced a 35 per cent decrease in prize money for the two singles champions. However, prize money for qualifying and the first three rounds of the main draw will rise as part of an overall increase.
The US Open was held behind closed doors last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The USTA announced on Monday that it will be boosting total player compensation to a record 57.5 million dollars. This is slightly more compared to the 57.2 million dollars in 2019. The figure was 53.4 million dollars in 2020.
The title winners in singles each will be paid 2.5 million dollars. That figure is down from 3 million dollars last year and 3.85 million dollars two years ago. It is the lowest amount for the top prize at Flushing Meadows since 2012. Back then the singles champs each received 1.9 million dollars.