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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday January 25, 2023

 
Tommy Paul

Tommy Paul edged fellow American Ben Shelton in four sets to reach his maiden Grand Slam semi-final.

Photo Source: Getty

The last American standing at the 2023 Australian Open is: Tommy Paul.

The 25-year-old American battled past 20-year-old Ben Shelton in the first all-American men’s singles Grand Slam quarter-final since 2007 on Wednesday night in Melbourne, 7-6(6) 6-3 5-7 6-4.

Tennis Express

Paul, competing in his 15th major, handled everything the hard-serving southpaw threw at him and survived a late push as Shelton rallied from a break down to take the third set to win in three hours and six minutes.

He is the first American to reach the semifinals at the Australian Open since Andy Roddick in 2009.

Paul will face either nine-time champion Novak Djokovic or Andrey Rublev in the semifinals on Friday in Melbourne.

“Making it to the second weekend of a Slam that's everyone's dream when they start playing tennis,” Paul told the crowd after his victory. “I can't believe I'm here right now.”


A tremendous fortnight saw eight American men reach the third round and three progress to the quarterfinals, marking the first time that had happened in Melbourne since 2000 in the heyday of Sampras and Agassi at the Australian Open.

Shelton, the 2022 NCAA men's singles champion, was making his second appearance at a major, and had never been outside of the United states – for tennis or otherwise – prior to this month, has emerged as another exciting talent in a deep crop of American men that will feature ten players inside the Top-50 in Monday’s post-Australian Open rankings.

“I mean, it's not just exciting for the American fans,” Paul said. “I think it's exciting for fans all around the world. And for us too, I mean, I'm really excited for Ben I'm excited for all the players that are coming up. [Frances Tiafoe] made semi-finals at the US Open and now I made semi-finals here. So we definitely have a good crop coming up and I'm really excited.”

Shelton hit 24 aces and 42 winners, but Paul was the more consistent player from start to finish. He delivered 43 winners against 26 unforced errors (against 50 for Shelton) and earned 15 break points, converting three.

To reach the last four is a tremendous accomplishment for Paul, an athletically gifted talent that lacked discipline during his formative years. As he has developed, and improved his conditioning, he has simplified his tactics and become more of a punishing powerhouse without squelching his creativity.

Paul was particularly strong on serve on Shelton, winning 86 percent of his first serve points and 68 percent of his second serve points to keep control of the contest.

“Yesterday I was doing a couple of interviews and they were asking how it felt to be in the quarter-finals. I was like semi-final sounds a little better,” he said. “Pumped, pumped to be there, and obviously, really excited for whoever I play on Friday.”

 

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