Tommy Paul is still adjusting to life on the ATP tour. The 20-year-old New Jersey native won the 2015 French Open boys’ singles title and was the runner-up later that year at the U.S. Open, but winning on the pro tour hasn’t come as easily.
Coming into 2017, the American had won just one career main-draw ATP match, but of late he’s shown glimpses of what he’s capable of on the court.
The world No. 225 came out of qualifying in Atlanta and won four consecutive matches before falling to world No. 21 Gilles Muller in the quarterfinals. He carried that momentum into Washington, D.C., where he picked up a come-from-behind win over promising 18-year-old Casper Ruud, 3-6, 7-5, 3-0 [RET], on center court in the first round of the Citi Open.
Paul, a wild card in D.C., spoke about his fourth career main-draw victory—and third in the last 10 days—with Tennis Channel’s Justin Gimelstob, and also touched on the experience of going from the junior circuit to the professional level.
“It’s a big step,” the North Carolina resident said. “Going from juniors to pros, it’s not easy. It’s tough, going out there playing in and out every single week. Everyone’s good, the level is high at every tournament, so that’s probably the toughest part. You don’t have any easy first rounds, any easy second rounds. Every match is tough. I’m enjoying it, though. I’m having a good time. I like it.”
Next up for Paul on Wednesday is seventh-seeded Lucas Pouille, the world No. 17 from France. Paul admitted that he doesn’t know much about the Frenchman, who’s won two titles this year, and will have to do some research if he wants to pull out what would be the biggest win of his career.
“Honestly, I don’t know too much about his game,” Paul said. “I’m definitely going to go back and talk to my coach about it a little bit. I don’t watch too much tennis, so I haven’t really seen him play that much, which is kind of crazy because he’s been at the top for a while. I’m just excited to get out there.”
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