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Tommy Paul wins all-American clash with Ben Shelton to reach semifinals of Australian Open
The 25-year-old Paul made the first Grand Slam semifinal of his career with a 7-6 (6), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory.
Published Jan 25, 2023
Tommy Paul battled past Ben Shelton in an all-American quarterfinal at the Australian Open on Wednesday, 7-6 (6), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, to move through to the first Grand Slam semifinal of his career.
The 25-year-old Paul is the first American man to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open since Andy Roddick in 2009.
“This is my first time on this court, my first time in the quarterfinals of a Slam—it’s actually Ben Shelton’s first time leaving the States, so I think he had a pretty good trip as well,” Paul said in his on-court interview on Rod Laver Arena.
“Yesterday I was doing a couple of interviews and they were asking how it felt to be in the quarterfinals. I was like, ‘Semifinals sounds a little better!’ So, pumped to be there. And obviously excited for whoever I play on Friday.
“I mean, making it to the second weekend of a Slam, that’s everyone’s dream when they start playing tennis. So I can’t believe I’m here right now.”
Just by getting to the quarterfinals, Paul and Shelton already achieved something special—it was the first all-American quarterfinal at a Grand Slam in 16 years, since Roddick defeated Mardy Fish in the quarterfinals of the 2007 Australian Open.
It was also the first time either of them had ever been to a Grand Slam quarterfinal, period—and for the 20-year-old Shelton, his first quarterfinal at any tour-level event, period.
But on the day it Paul who was just too solid in the end.
After 12 straight holds to start the match, the 56-minute first set came down to just a few points, with Paul grabbing the first mini-break at 6-all in the tie-break before clinching the set. He then grabbed the first break of the match for a 4-2 lead in the second set, and the two held from there until Paul had a two-set lead in his pocket.
Shelton hadn’t been broken since the second round.
After six consecutive holds to start the third set, Paul snuck out another break and found himself serving at 4-3, 30-0—just six points from victory—when Shelton suddenly found new life, breaking back and eventually breaking again to take the fourth set.
But Paul went right back to work, breaking in the very first game of the fourth set, and the two held from there until Paul had the victory.
“Really happy to get through that match,” Paul said. “There wasn’t really too much rhythm in the match, but Ben’s a very tough player to play against, and he’s going to be in many more matches like this.
“I think everyone should be really excited for that kid.”
Paul is now the third active American man to reach a Grand Slam semifinal, joining John Isner (2018 Wimbledon) and Frances Tiafoe (2022 US Open) on that list.
Paul, who’s currently ranked No. 35, is projected to break into the Top 20 when the new ATP rankings come out next week just by reaching the semifinals, and could go even higher if he keeps winning.
Shelton, who’s No. 89 right now, will soar into the Top 50, just inside the Top 45 to be exact.