WATCH: Tommy Paul's press conference after his Australian Open quarterfinal win


American tennis has a man in the Australian Open semifinals—and it’s not top-ranked Taylor Fritz or Frances Tiafoe, but the unseeded Tommy Paul, who reached this stage at a Grand Slam for the first time on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old’s career breakthrough came amid a banner tournament for American men’s tennis. Of the 14 players that began in the main draw, four advanced to the fourth round: Sebastian Korda, Ben Shelton, J.J. Wolf and Paul—the most in 19 years.

Paul has gone relatively under the radar, grinding away on outer courts while his high-profile countrymen basked in the spotlight. But when it was time to take center stage, playing on Rod Laver Arena for the first time, Paul confidently charged past Shelton 7-6 (6), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

Afterward, he dedicated his victory to a special new guest in his player’s box, as he told John Fitzgerald during the on-court interview:

Q. I know this means a lot to you and your coach, Brad Stine… Good luck in the semifinals. You know who is in your half, right?

TOMMY PAUL: Yeah. I mean, I’m just really excited right now because my mom, right after I won in the round of 16, she hopped on a plane yesterday.

She’s right up there. She got here this morning. She went straight from work to the airport to get here and watch me today.

Mom Jill MacMillan made the around-the-world trip just in time to watch her son record the biggest win of his career, as Paul became the first player from his country to reach the last four in Melbourne since Andy Roddick in 2009.


Paul reached his first Grand Slam semifinal with a 7-6 (6), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory over countryman Ben Shelton.

Paul reached his first Grand Slam semifinal with a 7-6 (6), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory over countryman Ben Shelton.

“When I first heard [she was coming], I was pretty nervous because we've had a good thing going here and I didn't really want to change anything,” Paul told press afterward. “After a little bit of thinking, I was like, Yeah, I'm in the quarterfinals of a slam. She's done a lot for me from when I was really young until now. She's sacrificed a ton to get me here. She deserves to be here and deserves to see me win big matches…

“I saw her before the match. She came to the hotel right before I left for the courts to come warm up. Then obviously I saw her right before the match, before I went out. Then I saw her in the box.

“It was really exciting. It's really nice to have her here.”

Mom will also have a front-row seat as Paul takes on nine-time champion Novak Djokovic for a place in the Australian Open final on Friday.

Paul is also looking to become the first American to defeat Djokovic since Sam Querrey at Wimbledon in 2016. Djokovic has won 26 matches in a row since then against their countrymen, with the most recent victory coming at the start of the season in the Adelaide final against Korda.