Tommy Paul spoils Nadal’s return, rallying from a set and break down in Paris

Tommy Paul won against Rafael Nadal 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-1 on Wednesday evening. He’ll face Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, the No 14 seed, in the next round

Rafael Nadal Paris Masters 2022 Rafael Nadal Paris Masters 2022 || © David Winter/Shutterstock/SIPA

American Tommy Paul moved into the last 16 of Paris Masters by defeating Spaniard Rafael Nadal, the second seed, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-1 at the Accor Arena on Wednesday evening.

Paul, ranked No 31, will face Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, the No 14 seed, next.

Biggest win by ranking

The American has now won his last three matches against top-5 opposition, and his victory over second-ranked Nadal is his best ever by ranking.

“Probably my best win,” Paul said after the victory. “I was obviously pumped for the matchup. It’s always interesting when you play one of the big three. I mean, I’ve only played him [twice], but the first time I was so nervous.”

Paul dropped the opening set and fell behind by a break when Nadal converted in the third game of the set, but the American quickly rallied, breaking at love in the next game and eventually taking the set in a tiebreak.

In the third set, as Nadal looked fatigued, Paul surged ahead and won the final four games to close the victory in two hours and 32 minutes.

“It was weird,  this time I wasn’t really nervous. I was pretty relaxed going on the court and the day before so I think that played a role. I came out playing pretty well. He took the first set, but I feel like I played pretty well from the jump.” 

The 25-year-old American has won three consecutive matches against top-5 opposition and improves to 4-4 against the top-5 lifetime. His triumph over world No 2 Nadal is his best ever by ranking.

Paul: the plan was to play aggressive and I did that

The American won 24 of 30 points at net, as aggressive tennis featured into his dynamic game plan. He says it was part of the plan, along with making first serves and dictating whenever possible.

“You know, play aggressive. That was pretty much the plan,” Paul said. “I think the first set, it changed a lot when I was missing my first serves. He was really on my second serve, even there at the end of the third set. He was hopping all over my seconds my first-serve percentage dropped and that was a big difference in the match.”

Paul won 39 of 50 first-serve points in the contest.

“I felt like when I was making my first serves, I was serving well,” he said.

The victory improves Paul’s record to 38-26 on the season. He has already eclipsed his career-best win total.

Nadal drops to 38-6, and has now lost two in a row.

“I had a lot of fun out there and it was probably the best I played in the last three months,” Paul said. “I mean, I know it’s been kind of slow, this whole European swing for me so I’m pumped to to get that w.”

In the previous round of the Paris Bercy, the American won against Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut (6-4, 6-4).

Paris Masters 1000, other second-round results (Accor Arena, EUR 5.415.410, most recent results first):

  • Corentin Moutet vs. Cameron Norrie
  • Pablo Carreno Busta beat Denis Shapovalov: 7-6 (2), 2-6, 6-4
  • Holger Rune beat Hubert Hurkacz (10): 7-5, 6-1
  • Gilles Simon (WC) beat Taylor Fritz (9): 7-5, 5-7, 6-4
  • Grigor Dimitrov beat Fabio Fognini (LL): 6-0, 7-5
  • Carlos Alcaraz (1) beat Yoshihito Nishioka: 6-4, 6-4
  • Felix Auger-Aliassime (8) beat Mikael Ymer (Q): 6-7 (6), 6-4, 7-6 (6)
  • Alex De Minaur beat Daniil Medvedev (4): 6-4, 2-6, 7-5
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) beat Daniel Evans: 6-3, 6-4
  • Lorenzo Musetti beat Nikoloz Basilashvili: 6-4, 6-2
  • Frances Tiafoe (16) beat Jack Draper: 6-3, 7-5
  • Karen Khachanov beat Marc-Andrea Huesler (Q): 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
  • Casper Ruud (3) beat Richard Gasquet (WC): 6-1, 7-6 (7)
  • Novak Djokovic (6) beat Maxime Cressy: 7-6 (1), 6-4
  • Andrey Rublev (7) beat John Isner: 6-2, 6-3

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