Sumit Nagal got a taste of top-level tennis during a 3-6 3-6 2-6 defeat at the hands of world number three Dominic Thiem as the young Indian exited the US Open here on Thursday.
Playing against the second seeded Austrian, the Indian lost in straight sets to Thiem, who celebrated his 27th birthday with a commanding performance in the second round at the Athur Ashe stadium.
Thiem, this year's Australian Open finalist, had said that he has seen videos of Nagal's game and knew that he has a ripping forehand. Well prepared, he came out with a clear strategy of not giving many balls on the forehand side of the Indian.
Nagal came into the contest after giving India a rare singles main draw match win at a Grand Slam but it was always going to be a daunting task for him to challenge someone who has made two French Open finals.
Slow off the blocks, Nagal was broken early but the slogger that he is, he kept Thiem under pressure, creating as many as five chances to break back in the fifth game that lasted 10 minutes.
He converted the fifth breakpoint when Thiem made an unforced error and made it 3-3 with an easy hold, riding momentum.
Playing with a lot of energy and stinging strokes, those were the best two games that Nagal played as the gap between him and the top players was on display after that.
Thiem, using his superior game shifted gears with remarkable ease, turning the tide with an immediate break and served out the set.
Nagal lost his serve early again with Thiem getting a grip of his returns. The Austrian started to serve better and also unleashed his big-hitting game, keeping the match in a tight grip.
Thiem broke the 23-year-old Nagal one more time in the seventh with a cross court winner to serve at 5-2.
Nagal got a break back when Thiem hit a backhand long on the third breakpoint but dropped his serve in the next to give his fancied opponent a two-set advantage.
Thiem wrapped up the match with ease even as Nagal kept finding winners here and there. He fought hard and saved a match point, too, but it was clear that the young Indian's best is not enough to trouble the top guns.