American outsider Tommy Paul broke Rafael Nadal three times in the final set to send the Spaniard to a 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-1 second round defeat on Wednesday in a match which concluded close to midnight at the Paris Masters.
The No. 31 winner knocked out the 36-year-old Spaniard who was playing his first Tour match since losing two months ago in the US Open fourth round to his opponent’s good friend Frances Tiafoe.
Nadal went off the boil after claiming the opening set from a break down, with Paul recovering to squeeze out the second before dominating in the third.
“I came out and played well from the start,” the winner said. “I felt really comfortable.
“I was surprised that I was not more nervous, I played well.”
Paul will on Thursday face his third straight Spanish opponent when he takes on Pablo Carreno Busta for a quarter-final spot.
The American needed two and a half hours for victory, ending with 29 winners and 27 unforced errors.
Nadal, broken five times, had 35 unforced errors.
The loss seriously dented the veteran’s chances of returning to the No. 1 ranking currently held by teenaged compatriot Carlos Alcaraz, the top seed.
Main photo: A dejected Rafa Nadal exits from Paris Masters after losing second round matc by Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd