He did say that much before the match, and he had it. World No 3 Dominic Thiem celebrated 27th birthday with a straight sets win over India's Sumit Nagal in his second round of the men's singles US Open Championship, at the Flushing Meadows on Thursday.
The Australian went on to register and easy 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 with authority at the Arthur Ashe stadium.
The finalist back home at the Australian Open this year complimented his rival for the Indian's ripping forehand, but as the same time said that he came well prepared for the encounter. And he came out with a clear strategy of not giving many balls on the forehand side of the Indian.
"Thank you 2020 US Open. Lots to learn. Going to keep working hard! Thanks for all the support everyone," Nagal later tweeted.
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 the 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 was not enough to trouble the top guns.
It was a welcome celebration for the No. 2 seed because, like many players in the draw this year, lack of match play in the past few months has made it difficult for him to regain his old form. At last week’s Western & Southern Open, Thiem managed only three games in his opening-round loss, and his US Open first-round opponent retired from injury midway through a rusty performance on Tuesday.
“I think it’s going in the right direction,” Thiem said of his improved play in the second round. “It’s difficult to say where I stand, I’ve been playing a lot of exhibition matches while we were away, but it’s not the same as here, where it’s more serious. I would like to get back to where I was before we stopped playing,” said Thiem.
Nagal threatened early in the first set, leveling the scoreline after being down 0-3. It brought back memories of when he stole the opening set off Roger Federer in the first round during his debut here last year. But Thiem put his foot on the gas pedal to reel off the next three games, taking the set and denying the No. 1 Indian a chance to recreate that 2019 scenario.
Thiem’s dominance continued as he broke Nagal at love to end the second set, and the Austrian’s momentum never slowed the rest of the way. Nagal fought through to the very end, but a volley that sailed long handed Thiem the victory.
Thiem on Red Bull outburst
New York: World number three Dominic Thiem was visibly angry during his US Open second-round match against India's Sumit Nagal when officials told him that his energy drink could be provided to him in a cup. On Thursday afternoon, officials told him that the can of Red Bull which he had asked for cannot be brought to court due to sponsorship reasons and so it was suggested that the drink could be poured into a cup off the court and brought to Thiem. "Give me a plain cup, I'll somehow cover it and then I'll put it in," Thiem was heard as saying on court in between the sets. "You guys are crazy about anti-doping and then you want to carry the Red Bull can out and you guys fill it in a plain cup. What the heck is this? Bring me a plain cup please and I'll fill it in." The can was then brought out and an official then covered it as Thiem poured it into the cup. Thiem later said in the post-match press conference that he didn't want the can to be poured into the cup out of his view and brought to him as that could have amounted to a potential anti-doping infringement. "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," the Austrian said.