American Tommy Paul scored the biggest win of his career at Indian Wells on Sunday night, stunning Alexander Zverev, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (2), in what was the reigning ATP Finals champion's opening match at the Masters 1000 tournament.

Paul had three previous Top 10 wins, but the best of those came against a No. 5-ranked Andrey Rublev at Indian Wells last October—Zverev is currently ranked No. 3.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s great,” the American said after the match. “I played a really high level today. Last time I played him I think I played well and put pressure on him, so I knew how I wanted to play him, and I came out and executed it well.

“It got kinda 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 breaker, so I’m happy with my performance.”

Paul had won their only previous meeting in Acapulco in 2020, 6-3, 6-4, and he looked confident from the start of this one too, breaking in the opening game and eventually opening up a 5-1, double-break lead, pocketing the first set a few games later.

Zverev steadied himself from there, staying on serve with Paul for the first nine games of the second set, and then he pounced, breaking for the first time at 5-4 to send the match to a decider—he then broke again for a 4-2 lead in the third set, and even had a point to hold for 5-2. But things took one last turn from there, as Zverev double faulted to bring it back to deuce, then double faulted again to drop serve—the two then held from there until the tie-break, where an ultra-aggressive Paul surged out to a 6-1 lead, closing it out two points later on his second match point.

Paul is now 2-0 against Zverev, having beaten the German in straight sets in Acapulco two years ago.

Paul is now 2-0 against Zverev, having beaten the German in straight sets in Acapulco two years ago.


Paul finished the match with three more winners than Zverev, 28 to 25, and two more unforced errors, 31 to 29. The American's forehand was one of the biggest shots of the match, producing 21 winners to 14 unforced errors, but when he was asked afterwards what he was happiest about, he pointed to something else.

“Probably my commitment to coming to the net,” he said. “The whole match I served and volleyed pretty well. He didn’t give me too many chances to return and rush the net—in the second and third he started picking up his first serve percentage—but I was happy with the way that I stuck with my game plan there.”

Paul has had a very strong start to 2022, reaching the quarterfinals or better in four of the other five events he’s played this year—one semifinal in Delray Beach and three more quarterfinals, the first two coming back to back at the two Australian Open lead-up events in Adelaide and the third coming in Acapulco two weeks ago.

“I’ve been playing well, practicing well and working hard,” he said. “I’m happy to be here, I always play well here, last year I played really well so I don’t know—sometimes when you play well somewhere you come back and kind of carry that momentum.”

Indian Wells was Zverev’s first ATP event since being withdrawn from Acapulco due to unsportsmanlike conduct, though he did win two Davis Cup matches last week.

The No. 3-seeded German is the only Top 8 men’s seed to lose at Indian Wells so far this year—No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic withdrew from the tournament, and all of the other Top 8 seeds won their opening matches and are through to the third round.