Nagal had become the first Indian in seven years, since Somdev Devvarman at the US Open in 2013, to win a singles match at a Grand Slam when he defeated American Bradley Klahn in the first round.
On Thursday, though, the 23-year-old struggled to mount a real challenge for Austria’s Thiem, who was celebrating his 27th birthday.
World No 124 Nagal, who made his Grand Slam debut as a qualifier at the US Open last year, had made a name for himself by taking a set off 20-time Grand Slam Roger Federer at Flushing Meadows. The India No 1 earned a direct entry into the US Open draw this year.
Although not many would have bet in favour of an upset on Thursday, Nagal would be slightly disappointed for going down in straight sets against three-time Grand Slam finalist Thiem.
The match started with Nagal losing his first service game and that set the template for the entire match. The right-hander was broken early in each set and simply couldn’t get enough free points with his first serve throughout the match.
But the match was not without its moments for the Indian. Nagal’s best phase came in the first set itself, when he got his only break of the match to get back on serve. But Thiem broke again to close out the first set and didn’t look back after that.
In the next two sets as well, Nagal produced some solid points but couldn’t string enough good points to mount a fight.
There were plenty of intense rallies in the match, with both players going hard with their groundstrokes. Nagal went toe to toe with his much higher-ranked opponent in the first set but seemed to taper off as the match progressed. His forehand, however, was impressive and he produced a number of winners from it on both flanks.
For Thiem, the match was a good workout as he chases his first Grand Slam title. He will face 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic in the third round.