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By Alberto Amalfi | @Tennis_Now | Saturday, March 22, 2024

Tommy Paul made a painfully premature exit from the Miami Open.

The 13th-seeded Paul was forced to retire after rolling his left ankle while leading compatriot Martin Damm 6-4, 1-2 on Court 7. It was the same ankle that Paul rolled during his semifinal loss to Daniil Medvedev at Indian Wells exactly a week ago.

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Serving at 1-2 in the second set, Paul rolled his left ankle attacking net behind a slice backhand and immediately dropped his racquet on court.

Hopping on one foot to keep his weight off the injured ankle, Paul hobbled off court beneath the chair umpire’s seat and curled up on the ground in clear pain.

Unable to put weight on the ankle, Paul who was coming off a run to the Indian Wells semifinal, pulled the plug after 68 minutes. 

It's an agonizing end for the American nicknamed "T-Pain" and a major opportunity for wild card Damm. 

Massive-serving lefty Damm, who rocked 10 aces in little more than a set, advanced to the third round against Aussie Christopher O'Connell. World No. 66 O'Connell ripped 17 aces in a 7-5, 7-6(5) upset of 21st-seeded American Frances Tiafoe.

It's been a breakthrough week for Damm, who scored his first career ATP win in the opening round and followed it up, albeit by Paul's retirement, with his first Top 20 victory. 

"Not the way I want to win, ever, it was a great start to the match I thought," the 6'8" Damm told Tennis Channel's Prakash Amritraj afterward. "The crowd showed up, the majority of them cheering for him. These kind of matches is something I've been looking forward to for a very long time.

"For this one, I thought I put up a pretty good fight in that first set. Very unfortunate what happened to Tommy.

"I never want to see that happen to anyone, especially an American like Tommy and the player like Tommy is, but I'm definitely excited to move forward."

Photo credit: Matthew Calvis