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Tommy Paul draws support from U.S. men’s group chat to make Australian Open quarterfinal
The American’s phone is blowing up, getting texts from Reilly Opelka, Taylor Fritz, and Frances Tiafoe since he earned his best-ever Grand Slam result.
Published Jan 24, 2023
WATCH: Tommy Paul's TenniStory
The Beatles weren’t kidding when they said we get by with a little help from our friends.
Tommy Paul may not have some of his closest colleagues still with him in Melbourne, but the American is feeling the support via text as he gears up to play his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open.
“Reilly [Opelka] actually has been giving me all of my scouting reports. He's basically been my coach this week,” joked Paul after he scored a four-set victory over No. 24 seed Roberto Bautista Agut. “Taylor [Fritz] has been sending me, like, some stupid-ass memes on Instagram. That's about it. He asked me if I was coming to L.A. after this tournament, and I said, ‘No, I'm supposed to go to Uzbekistan for Davis Cup, so I'm not going there.’ Big Foe has been shooting me some messages. Everyone is pretty supportive.”
That quartet of Paul, Opelka, Fritz, and Tiafoe go way back, all born within 12 months of one another and competing in tournaments together since their junior days.
“I think we see people that we've played our whole lives, kind of felt like we've been around the same level as them our whole lives, and we see them doing big things in big tournaments,” said Paul. “We're like, ‘Okay, I can do that.’
“At the same time, I think we push each over, not just from results-wise, but when we're talking to each other, we help each other, we push each other, we want each other to do well.”
The 2015 season saw Paul, Opelka, and Fritz all win Grand Slam junior titles at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open, ostensibly setting them up for equal slices of pro-level success.
But while his friends have grabbed headlines over the years, Paul often lagged behind before his late-2021 surge precipitated a breakthrough 2022, which featured a run to Wimbledon’s second week and an upsets over both Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal.
Eager to make up for lost time, Paul is looking to make the most of his all-American quarterfinal and hold off rising compatriot Ben Shelton.
“it's a good group coming up. Obviously like I want to be the best one in the group. Fritz wants to be the best one in the group. Frances wants to be the best one in the group. Everyone wants to be the best. That's what makes it good. I mean, we're all competitive.”