Rafael Nadal will play his first singles match since the US Open on Wednesday in Paris. Nadal will kick off his ninth Paris Masters campaign in the second round against Tommy Paul. The American ousted Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round and will compete against world no.
2 for the second time. Their first clash came in the Acapulco quarter-final this February, with Nadal scoring a 6-0, 7-6 triumph in two hours and three minutes. Rafa made a great start but had to dig deep in the second set. He lost serve three times and came from 5-3 down to reach a tie break and avoid a decider.
Rafa lost 40% of the points in his service games and still prevailed despite getting broken three times in the second set. The Spaniard stole 55% of the return points and turned them into six breaks to emerge at the top. Rafa grabbed the opening game at love with a powerful backhand and fired a winner from his right wing in game two to secure a break.
Nadal held at love in game three and seized the fourth break chance in the next one for 4-0 in 18 minutes.
Rafael Nadal defeated Tommy Paul in the 2022 Acapulco quarter-final.
The Spaniard closed the fifth game with a service winner and delivered his third straight break a few minutes later for a 6-0 advantage in under half an hour.
Paul made a nice recovery in the second set and earned an early break in the opening game with a backhand winner at the net. Tommy confirmed the lead with an ace in game two before Rafa pulled the break back with a lucky net cord in game four.
Struggling to impose his strokes in those moments, Nadal sprayed a backhand error in the fifth game to fall behind. The Spaniard broke back in game six following a wild forehand from his rival. Nadal wasted game points in the next one and suffered another break after a loose forehand.
Paul saved a break point in game eight and landed a forehand down the line winner to move 5-3 in front. Rafa closed the ninth game with a forehand down the line winner to prolong the set and broke back in the last moment to level the score at 5-5 and gain a boost.
A three-time champion saved a break chance with a forehand drive-volley winner in game 11 and the second after a well-constructed attack. Nadal finally held and earned a match point on the return in the next one with a volley winner.
Tommy saved it with a smash winner, denied the second with a service winner and fired another to close the game and introduce a tie break. From 2-0 down, Nadal landed a forehand down the line winner to reduce the deficit and opened a 3-2 gap with an unreturned serve.
Rafa forced the rival's mistake to move 5-3 in front before Tommy climbed back to 5-5 and increased the drama. Nadal grabbed a mini-break in the 11th point and sealed the deal with a service winner for a place in the semi-final.