Auger-Aliassime, Rublev in ATP Finals; Paul stuns Nadal

Rafael Nadal crashed out of the Paris Masters in the second round on Wednesday, losing to American world number 31 Tommy Paul.

Nadal reacts after the loss against America’s Tommy Paul.

Nadal reacts after the loss against America’s Tommy Paul. | Photo Credit: AP

Rafael Nadal crashed out of the Paris Masters in the second round on Wednesday, losing to American world number 31 Tommy Paul.

Felix Auger-Aliassime and Andrey Rublev qualified for the ATP Finals after Taylor Fritz and Hubert Hurkacz, the other contenders for the two remaining spots, lost in the second round of the Paris Masters on Wednesday.

Eighth-seeded Auger-Aliassime outlasted qualifier Mikael Ymer 6-7 (6), 6-4, 7-6 (6) to next play wild-card entry Gilles Simon, who overcame ninth-seeded Fritz 7-5, 5-7, 6-4.

Auger-Aliassime saved 14 of 17 break points and converted four of five to extend his winning streak to 14 matches.

Fritz failed to convert three set points on Simon’s serve at 5-4 in the opening set. The American also failed to convert any of the three break points he had at 3-2 in the final set. He made 36 unforced errors to 16 for Simon, who is ranked 188th and plans to retire after this tournament.

Teenager Holger Rune stunned 10th-seeded Hurkacz 7-5, 6-1 to meet Rublev, who reached the third round on Tuesday.

Before the Paris Masters, Carlos Alcaraz, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud, Daniil Medvedev, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had already qualified for the eight-man tournament in Turin from Nov. 13-20.

Alcaraz, Tsitsipas, Alex de Minaur and Lorenzo Musetti also advanced to the third round in Paris, while Nadal’s 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-1 loss to Tommy Paul raised questions about his fitness in his first singles match since the U.S. Open.

The second-seeded Nadal made 19 unforced errors to 18 for Paul and dropped serve three times in the final set, almost looking resigned.

“At the end, I need days on the tour,” Nadal said. “It’s true that for the last five months I didn’t spend enough days on the tour. I don’t even say competing on a tennis court. I say on the tour. Practicing with the guys. That’s what I need.”

Paul next plays Pablo Carreno Busta, who edged Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (2), 2-6, 6-4.

De Minaur upset fourth-seeded Medvedev 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 to next face Frances Tiafoe, who beat Jack Draper 6-3, 7-5.

De Minaur beat Medvedev for the first time in five meetings.

After rallying from a 2-0 deficit in the final set, De Minaur failed to convert his first two match points at 5-4. He hit a return out on the first match point and made an unforced error on the second.

But the Australian got two more chances at 6-5. Medvedev saved the third match point with a service winner before double-faulting on the fourth and angrily throwing his racket to the ground.

“I’m glad I played a very tactical match,” De Minaur told Tennis Channel. “I just tried to wait for my right ball and just back myself and back my volley.”

Medvedev, who won the Paris Masters in 2020 and was runner-up last year, dropped serve in the first set by overhitting a smash in the final game. But the Russian capitalized on unforced errors by De Minaur to break twice in the second set.

The top-seeded Alcaraz downed Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4, 6-4 to rack up more points in his chase for the year-end No. 1 ranking.

Alcaraz hit 30 winners to seven for the Japanese player and will next play Grigor Dimitrov who dispatched lucky loser Fabio Fognini 6-0, 7-5.

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