Rafael Nadal suffers shock Indian Wells exit

2013 champion and world number one Rafael Nadal was beaten in shock circumstances 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-5) by Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov in the third round of the Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

Appearing in just a second tournament since his defeat to Stanislas Wawrinka in the Australian Open final last January, the Spaniard had battled past Radek Stepanek in the previous round and again failed to hit top form against the 28th seed Dolgopolov.

The recurrence of the back injury he sustained against Wawrinka was evident, as despite drawing the match level in the second set and leading the decisive tie-break 4-2 he was unable to close the contest out.

For Dolgpolov, it was his first triumph over the Spaniard, having lost all previous encounters in the past without winning a single set.

The 25-year-old has climbed 26 places in the world rankings since the end of 2013, whilst Nadal became his second high-profile casualty of the year after his victory over Spaniard David Ferrer in Rio last month.

Despite serving erratically – managing just 40 per-cent – the execution of his shots wowed the American crowd. He hit 36 winners in total, whilst Nadal could manage only 17.

It ended an eight-year run of semi-final appearances for Nadal, who had been looking to equal Roger Federer’s record of four tournament wins after previous successes in 2007, 2009 and 2013.

Instead, the conquest for another record will have to wait, as Dolgopolov progresses to the next round where he will meet Fabio Fognini in a rematch of their Rio Open quarter-final.

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