20 year old American Tommy Paul advanced to the quarterfinals of the BB&T Atlanta Open on Wednesday after a tough three set win over Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri 6-7(5) 6-4 6-3. After coming through qualifying, Paul has doubled his ATP main draw win total this week in Atlanta.
Even though he’s considered one of the ATP’s next gen players, his career has already had its fair share of ups and downs. Paul had a lot of success in juniors, winning the French Open and the USTA clay court nationals. In 2015 he was given a qualifying wildcard to the US Open and managed to win three matches (ranked $434) at the time to advance to the main draw. You rarely see players that receive qualifying wildcards at Slams make the main draw, so at the time it definitely raised a few eyebrows. He eventually fell to Andreas Seppi in the first round, but looked like his career was going to take off after that. Later that season in the Charlottesville Challenger he led fellow American Noah Rubin 6-3 5-1 before losing in three sets, costing him a USTA wildcard to the Australian Open main draw. Since then, the past two years he’s struggled to show the consistency needed to take his game to the next level. He’s had a lot of success at the Futures level, winning six tournaments, but the results haven’t translated to tour level wins until this week. In all four of his wins this week (two in qualifying) he’s come from one set down to win. He hasn’t shown any sign of nerves and it might just be a sign that he is ready to make the jump to play at the tour level more often.
As he’s come up through the junior ranks with other Americans like Reilly Opelka, Stefan Kozlov, Frances Tiafoe, and Taylor Fritz, they’ve all been able to push each other competitively and build off of each others success. Not being able to play the same events as his compatriots recently due to his ranking may have inspired the type of run we’ve seen so far this week. If he keeps playing the way he has been this week, he’ll likely find himself in contention for a spot in Milan at the NextGen ATP Finals. Without another win this week, he should be around the top 20, with the top 8 getting in. American players generally have their best results this time of the year on the hardcourts so look for him to be a serious contender come November.
Next up for Tommy Paul is 2012 BB&T Atlanta Open runner up Gilles Muller. The 34-year-old is playing some of the best tennis in his career after reaching the quarterfinals of Wimbledon before falling to Marin Cilic. It’ll be a tough ask for Tommy Paul in what would be the biggest win of his career to date, but the one-time Georgia Bulldog commit (who elected to go pro instead of playing college tennis) has the home crowd behind him and might just be what he needs to pull off the biggest win of his career.