US Open 2020: Sumit Nagal's 'weak' serve disappoints in straight sets defeat to Dominic Thiem

As far as 'free' points are concerned, Sumit Nagal had just four (one ace and three return unforced errors from Thiem) - not ideal when playing a top level player with high intensity.

Tanuj Lakhina September 04, 2020 08:21:53 IST
US Open 2020: Sumit Nagal's 'weak' serve disappoints in straight sets defeat to Dominic Thiem

Sumit Nagal, of India, serves to Dominic Thiem, of Austria, during the second round of the US Open tennis championships, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Sumit Nagal's milestone run at the US Open ended in the second round on Thursday, going down 3-6, 3-6, 2-6 to World No 3 and second seed Dominic Thiem.

The duo traded plenty of rallies from the back of the court and Nagal provided a glimpse of what he had done to Roger Federer last year at the same venue. The Indian came from 0-3 down to level matters in the first set, including converting a fifth break point along the way, but it wasn't enough.

Just when it looked like he was getting the momentum, a poor eighth game gave Thiem the advantage. Nagal saved two break points but conceded the game after a lengthy rally.

"I think the only bad game he played was at 4-3 for me in the first set where he kind of came back into the match after he broke me, then he did some unforced errors. Besides that, I think it was a good match on a quite good level," the Austrian said later.

Thiem got early breaks in the second and third set to clinch a crucial advantage. In the second, as Thiem served to extend his lead at 5-2, Nagal broke his serve with a superb return game sending back a forehand winner cross court and then a down the line winner. Even as Nagal got one break back, he was broken immediately to make it a tougher challenge.

The third set began much like the first with Thiem taking a 3-0 lead. Nagal tried his best to get back, including hitting a Nadal-esque running forehand winner on the run, which brought out an applause from Thiem, but it wasn't enough. With a missed volley, Nagal conceded the contest with Thiem setting up a third round clash with Marin Cilic.

While doing exceptionally on his serve, Thiem made life difficult for Nagal in an empty Arthur Ashe Stadium by sending nearly every serve back. The Austrian won 74 percent of his first serve points, alongside seven aces, but it was the Indian's serve that proved to be the difference.

A look at the numbers on the Nagal serve narrate the tale. The Indian won 56 percent and 38 percent of points on his first and second serve, sent down four double faults, was broken seven times and served a taxing 16 points more than what Thiem did.

Even more troubling was Nagal's serve speeds. He served an average of 100 mph on the first serve, 86 mph on the second for an average overall of 97 mph. Thiem, in comparison, was 113 mph, 99 mph and 108 mph respectively.

As far as 'free' points are concerned, Nagal had just four (1 ace and three return unforced errors from Thiem) – not ideal when playing a top level player with high intensity.

US Open 2020 Sumit Nagals weak serve disappoints in straight sets defeat to Dominic Thiem

Sumit Nagal serves to Dominic Thiem during the second round of the US Open. AP

Thiem acknowledged the high intensity rallies in the on-court interview. "Both our games are suited for long rallies, some good forehand battles. It was an attractive match."

The Austrian entered the match with the knowledge of Nagal's big forehand. He stuck to the plan and went after the comparatively weaker backhand wing. "I had a good plan for the match. He's very dangerous when he can dictate with his forehand. I was exactly trying to avoid that."

"He has also very, very fast legs. He's moving around very quick on the court. I was trying to play my fastest tennis to keep him on the backhand, to not let him dictate with the forehand. I did that very well today."

Not even an argument with the chair umpire and officials stopped Thiem from going on two separate four consecutive games runs.

At the conclusion of the first set, Thiem, a Red Bull brand endorser called for a can of the energy drink from his camp, which was allowed after consultation with the chair umpire. However, for sponsorship reasons, it was deemed inappropriate to be consumed in front of the camera. As an alternate solution, he poured it in a plastic cup but not before going on a rant.

"You guys are crazy about anti-doping...but I'm drinking from the can. What the heck is this? Bring me a plain cup please and I pour it in."

He clarified his position in the post-match press conference. "They wanted to go out with the open can and fill it in a plain cup without me observing it. That's what pissed me off a little bit because the anti-doping rules are so strict. I don't want to lose the can out of my sight. In general, they are so strict rules these days, and they propose me to fill the can in a plain cup without me observing it. That pissed me off a little bit. But, well, it was just a little thing. Nothing happened at the end."

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