Having dragged himself back into contention after being outplayed for the better part of an hour, Murray served his first double-fault of the match at 3-4 to give Paul a crucial break and allow his opponent to serve for the match, as the Brit complained that someone in the crowd had made a noise during his second serve.
The American then held to love to seal a 6-2 3-6 6-3 victory, and will now face compatriot Frances Tiafoe, who Murray recently beat in a thrilling three-set encounter in Antwerp, after which the pair chatted in the locker room for half an hour – something Murray said was “rare” in his career.
Paul then called his opponent a “legend” during his on-court interview, and admitted he even looked to his coach during the match to say how much fun he was having.
It means Murray’s 2021 season comes to an end with a 13-14 win-loss record for the Brit.
His season did not properly start until Wimbledon, where he made it to the third round be beating 24th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili and qualifier Oscar Otte in dramatic four and five-set clashes on Centre Court.