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Tommy Paul ousts 3rd-seeded Alexander Zverev at Indian Wells

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Tommy Paul of the United returns a shot to Alexander Zverev of Germany during their second round match at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., on March 13, 2022.Bnp Paribas Open Alexander Zverev Vs Tommy Paul427
Tommy Paul of the United returns a shot to Alexander Zverev of Germany during their second round match at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., on March 13, 2022.Bnp Paribas Open Alexander Zverev Vs Tommy Paul427

American Tommy Paul outlasted third-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany in the third-set tiebreaker to win their round of 64 match late Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif.

The score was 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (2), and the tiebreaker proved anti-climactic when Zverev lost serve twice and fell behind 5-1. Paul failed on his first match point but broke Zverev to close out the match.

It’s the fourth time Paul has beaten a player in the world’s top 10, and the second of those that came against Zverev. Sunday’s win also was the highest ranked player Paul has beaten; Zverev is third in the world.

“It’s great, I played at a really high level today,” said Paul. “Last time I played him, I played well, I put pressure on him. I knew how I wanted to play him, and I came out and I executed that well.

“Obviously, it got kind of crazy there in the second set and I got lucky a little bit in the end, but I played well when it came down to the breakers, so I’m pretty happy with my performance.”

Paul next will face No. 29 Alex de Minaur of Australia, who defeated countryman John Millman, a lucky loser, 7-6 (4) 6-3).

In another upset, wild card Steve Johnson knocked off 22nd-seeded Aslan Karatsev of Russia in straight sets.

Johnson, a native of nearby Orange, Calif., who is ranked 115th in the world, won 7-6 (5), 6-4. He blasted 19 aces.

Next up for Johnson is a match against Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, the 11th seed, who needed three sets to advance past Oscar Otte of Germany, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Hurkacz, who posted 16 aces, lost serve in the third set to trail 3-2 before breaking Otte to tie it and then won the final three games as well.

Also ousted Sunday were ninth-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime, wild card Andy Murray and the 24th seed, Marin Cilic.

Auger-Aliassime, of Canada, lost in three sets to Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands 7-6 (4), 6-7 (4), 6-3. Auger-Aliassime finished with eight aces but also eight double-faults.

van de Zandschulp failed on three match points, but he gave credit to Auger-Aliassime as well.

“Of course you’re a little bit frustrated if you have match points in the second set. It’s not like I missed any shots, but he played some great points. It’s a little bit easier than when you are missing chances. I thought I was playing well and that’s how I continued in the third.”

Murray, of Great Britain, fell in straight sets to 31st-seeded Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan, 7-6 (9), 6-3. Serve held in the first set until the tiebreaker, when Murray lost serve on five points and Bublik four.

After Bublik failed on back-to-back set points early in the tiebreaker, Murray missed on three opportunities of his own before Bublik wrapped it up on his next chance.

The win by Bublik was a long time coming as he twice previously had lost to Murray.

“For me, it’s great to have a win here. It’s really tennis paradise. To beat Andy, finally – if he would be my age, it would have been a lot tougher,” he said.

Cilic lost a hard-fought match to Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia, 6-7, (7) 6-3, 7-6 (6). The match ended in just under three hours.

Cilic led the first set 5-2 before Kecmanovic won three straight games. Cilic hung on to win the tiebreaker.

Other winners Sunday were 14th-seeded Diego Schwartzman, No. 16 Pablo Carreno Busta, 20th-seeded Taylor Fritz, No. 28 Frances Tiafoe, 30th-seeded Lloyd Harris, and Grigor Dimitrov.

–Field Level Media