Rafael Nadal lost to American Tommy Paul in three sets in the second round of the Paris Masters on Wednesday. This gave Carlos Alcaraz a better chance of ending the year as the world’s No. 1 player.
After a short break with his wife and newborn son in Mallorca, Nadal was playing his first singles match in two months.
The 22-time Grand Slam winner won five of the next six games after being broken early in the first set.
Paul lost his serve in the third game of the second set, but he came back to win a tie-break after missing a chance to win the set when Nadal was serving at 4-5.
The Spaniard’s lack of match practice showed in the last set, which Paul dominated. He broke three times to win the biggest match of his career.
He will now play Pablo Carreno Busta for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Alcaraz is the current US Open champion. He beat Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan 6-4, 6-4, and will now play Grigor Dimitrov in the round of 16.
Even though his left knee was heavily taped, which he had played down on Monday, the 19-year-old hit 30 winners, including nine aces.
“I looked for my best level. I think I did a great job. I don’t think about how hard it is to be number one in the world “said Alcaraz.
The world No. 1 trophy was given to the Spaniard earlier this week. In September, he became the youngest player to top the ATP rankings.
“I felt like No. 1 even before I got the trophy, but it’s amazing to have it now. When I held the trophy in my hands, I felt great.”
Alcaraz said that as the best player in the world, he is now being watched.
“Maybe there was a difference in how the other players played against me, but not too much,” he said.
“I think the players play better or more aggressively when I’m around.”
Before Nadal left early, the 2020 Paris champion Daniil Medvedev was beaten by Alex de Minaur of Australia 6-4, 2-6, 7-5.
De Minaur will now play Frances Tiafoe, who reached the US Open semifinals by beating Jack Draper 6-3, 7-5. Before this match, De Minaur had never beaten a player in the top five.
Felix Auger-Aliassime made it to the Tour finals for the first time. After Taylor Fritz and Hubert Hurkacz both lost, Andrey Rublev joined the eight-man field in Turin.
Auger-Aliassime started his quest for a fourth title in four weeks by coming back from the brink to beat Mikael Ymer in three hours and 30 minutes.
The eighth-seeded Canadian barely won with scores of 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, and 7-6 (8/6) to make his winning streak 14 games long.
Auger-Aliassime saved two break points when Ymer was about to lose for the first time and the score was 1-4 in the second set.
“After I saved those break points at 4-1, I found a second wind,” Auger-Aliassime said.
“It was really cool. A win to remember for sure.”
Fritz lost 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 to Gilles Simon, who is 37 years old and will be retiring after the tournament.
Hurkacz’s hopes of making it to the next round ended when he lost to Holger Rune, a Danish teenager, 7-5, 6-1.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is ranked fifth, easily beat Dan Evans, who is from Britain, 6-3, 6-4, to move on to the round of 16.
Lorenzo Musetti of Italy beat Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-4, 6-2, and will now play third seed Casper Ruud in the round of 16.