Rafael Nadal crashed out of the Paris Masters in the second round on Wednesday after losing in three sets to American Tommy Paul, boosting Carlos Alcaraz’s chances of finishing the year as world number one. Nadal, who came into the tournament as second seed, was playing his first singles match in two months after spending time at home with his wife and newborn son.
The Spaniard’s lack of match practice showed as Paul dominated mostly the final set, breaking three times to seal the biggest win of his career. “I had the match (in my hands) in that second set with a set and break. I played a terrible game there. I didn’t deserve the victory playing that bad in that key moment,” said Nadal who is a 14-time French Open champion.
Nadal said he expected to compete at the Tour finals in Turin from November 13-20. “If nothing happens, I hope to be there. I’m excited about playing; even if it hasn’t been the perfect couple of months for me.” Paul goes on to play Pablo Carreno Busta for a place in the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, Carlos Alcaraz, the reigning US Open champion, will play Grigor Dimitrov in the last 16 after defeating Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4, 6-4. The Spaniard was presented with the world number one trophy earlier in the week, having become the youngest player to top the ATP rankings in September.
Alcaraz admitted there is a target on his back now as the world’s top-ranked player. “Probably the difference, the way the players play against me, probably I felt that difference, but not too much,” he said. “I would say the players play better or more aggressive with me.”
Nadal’s loss means Alcaraz will end the season as the top-ranked player if he takes home the trophy on Sunday.