Indian tennis’ singles challenge came to an end at the US Open late on Thursday as Sumit Nagal fell 3-6, 3-6, 2-6 to world No. 3 Dominic Thiem in the second round.
Things did not begin well for Sumit Nagal on his return to the Arthur Ashe stadium, the scene of his Grand Slam debut against Roger Federer last year.
On that occasion, Nagal took the opening set but he took time to adjust to the slow pace of the court this time round.
Thiem took a one-game lead and Nagal was shaky with his service game in the second. Though the Indian tennis ace saved two break points, he ended up conceding a 0-2 lead, which quickly became 0-3 as the Austrian took full toll of the opening.
However, this is when Sumit Nagal came back into the match.
With his senior compatriot Rohan Bopanna in attendance, Nagal planted some deep serves in the fourth game to win it.
The Indian tennis player then put Thiem under pressure, inviting him to hit powerful forehands from well behind the baseline to create four break points.
Though Thiem relied on his serves down the T and his delightful one-handed backhands to save the break points, he finally committed an unforced error at the fifth time of asking, allowing Nagal back into the match.
The 23-year-old Nagal duly targeted Thiem’s faulty forehand again and levelled the set at 3-3 with a sizzling ace down the line.
However, Nagal could not sustain that momentum for long as he conceded serve yet again with unforced errors and double faults in the eighth game to allow Thiem a chance to serve out the first set, which the Austrian did without much discomfort.
Nagal hair-oics in vain
Sumit Nagal began the second set as he did the first, by conceding serve though he did manage to save another break point.
Sporting his new blonde peroxide hairdo, the Indian tennis star exchanged service games with Thiem until the seventh one.
Nagal undid the momentum he had built by creating a break opportunity for Thiem at 15-40, which the latter accepted with glee to move into a 5-3 lead.
However, a nervy Thiem conceded serve in the very next game when he had a chance to go two sets up. Luckily for him, Nagal was not sharp enough with his play this time as the Indian tennis player ended up losing his serve, and the set with it, without managing to win a single point.
Thiem serves up masterclass
That Dominic Thiem’s tail was up in the third set was evident quickly.
The world No. 3 had not been at his best with his serves so far but had properly found his rhythm and he used both the wide and straight serves to good effect throughout the set.
Nagal was broken yet again in his first service game of the set, and the Jhajjar lad conceded a 0-3 lead, similar to his predicament in the opening set before finally winning the fourth game, after a hard grind, to reduce the deficit to 1-3.
The duo held serve in the next three games but Thiem, who had regained the mojo on his forehand, clearly looked the more comfortable on court.
Nagal, down 2-5 in the third set, was not ready to give up though as he fought hard to win back two match points but sent a sliced return wide at the net to hand Thiem the perfect present of a progress to the third round on the Austrian’s 27th birthday.