This article originally appeared in The Field’s newsletter, Game Points, on July 10, 2024. Sign up here to get the newsletter directly delivered to your inbox every week.

By Saturday, July 6, in the first week of the Wimbledon Championships, the entire Indian contingent had been knocked out of this edition of the competition.

In tennis, it is the Grand Slams that provide the best yardsticks of performance. And among the four Majors (the others are the Australian Open, French Open and US Open), the grass court event in London remains the most prestigious.

This year, four Indians competed at Wimbledon. But none made a mark.

Veteran Rohan Bopanna and Yuki Bhambri managed to get to the second round in the men’s doubles event with their partners, but N Sriram Balaji lost in the opener.

In singles, there was a fair degree of attention given to Sumit Nagal’s main draw debut at Wimbledon. The 26-year-old from Jhajjar, Haryana, has been in decent form, winning an ATP Challenger title in Heilbronn, Germany, before finishing as runner-up at an event in Perugia, Italy.

Nagal has broken into the top 100 rankings, and continues to climb up the ladder. But his preparation ahead of Wimbledon was curious.

A tireless runner with a powerful forehand, Nagal is a clay-court specialist. He is most comfortable on the red dirt, where the ball bounces high and the speed drops on contact with the surface.

On grass, though, the ball zips off the surface and stays low. The biggest players in the game require some time to make the adjustment after the clay season ends with the French Open in June and grass season begins.

However, Nagal did not compete at any of the grass-court tune-up events, instead opting to train in England the week before Wimbledon.

Surely, a tournament of the magnitude of Wimbledon deserves the respect of having players coming in with as much preparation under the belt as possible. This season in tennis, however, does have the extra element of the Olympic Games. This puts Nagal’s decision not to play much on grass into perspective.

The fact that the Olympics will take place on the clay courts of Roland Garros in Paris will require players to make the switch from playing on clay at the French Open to grass at Wimbledon, only to get back to clay again.

The Indians have been planning for the Olympics for some time. Bopanna will partner Balaji, and the national sports ministry has announced that the pair will be sponsored for two build-up events ahead of the Parisian extravaganza.

Nagal, by virtue of breaking into the top 75 rankings, will be competing in the men’s singles draw. Since the Olympics will be held on his favoured surface, he will be eyeing his chances to make a dent.

But as far as seeing where Indian tennis currently stands, the litmus test that is Wimbledon does not provide a rosy picture.

Earlier this year, no Indian was ranked in the top 100 in singles. Nagal is now the exception. Though there have been a number of players making it into the top 100 in doubles – currently, only three players are in this bracket – it is still the 44-year-old Bopanna who is the lone-flag bearer for the country.

The governing bodies in the sport have long recognised India as a solid market. Accordingly, their social media posts have looked to make a connection with Indian consumers.

On the court, though, there is still a lot left to be done.