Late in the afternoon on August 21, 2019 Tommy Paul missed a forehand to end his second round US Open Qualifying match against Spain’s Pedro Martinez. Dejected, Paul violently slammed his racket into the ground. Paul destroyed the racket, then he somberly exited the grounds at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center before the US Open started.
Almost a Wildcard
Just a few weeks earlier, several pundits considered Paul a candidate for a wild card entry in the US Open main draw. Some argued he deserved the invitation based on his play. Now, Paul could only watch the season’s final slam while carrying ranking outside of the world top 100. His season would end disappointingly, or so it appeared.
A little over one month after smashing his racket, and seemingly his hopes for a strong 2019, Paul lifted his second trophy of September, 2019 and virtually assured himself of entry into the main draw of the 2020 Austrailian Open. In September 2019, Tommy Paul played three Challenger Tour level events and won two of them.
Moving Inside the Top 100
Paul posted a strong 12-1 record in the September and claimed the titles at the New Haven and Tiburon events on the Challenger Tour. In the process, Paul climbed over 20 spots in world rankings to find himself comfortably inside the top 100, suddenly 2020 looks bright for the young American.
Time to Back It Up
While he had great Challenger Tour success in 2019, including 3 titles, ATP Tour level events proved challenging for Paul through the Spring and summer months. Despite strong showings at Challenger events, Paul struggled at the game’s highest level. Before his September run secured a solid year end ranking, Paul managed only 2 wins at the ATP level in 2019. Even his ATP tour level highlight was a loss. At Roland Garros, Paul gave fourth seeded Dominic Thiem a handful in the first round, before bowing out in 4 tough sets.
Despite his troubles at the game’s highest level in 2019, Paul looks to be on an upswing heading into 2019. For the first time in his career, the 22 year old will enter a season inside the world top 100. He should carry confidence from his strong ending in 2019 as well as some of the success he had early in the season. In mid 2019 Paul confidently claimed that “I can play with anybody, I know that”. While he knows that, 2020 is the time to show it. Will he?
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