INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — It was a bad day for defending champions at the BNP Paribas Open.
Just a couple of hours after Maria Sharapova tumbled out of the tournament, No. 1 Rafael Nadal quickly followed suit on Monday, losing to No. 31 Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (3) in the third round.
Dolgopolov had never taken a set off Nadal in five previous meetings. But the Ukrainian, ranked No. 31, has been on form over the last three weeks, making the final of the Rio Open, where he lost to Nadal, and the semifinals of the Mexican Open, where he lost to Kevin Anderson in three sets. Since the end of 2013, Dolgopolov has improved 26 spots in the rankings, the biggest jump in the top 50.