Tommy Paul extends dream Australian Open run into semi-final

Elated American Tommy Paul was the first man through to the Australian Open semi-finals on Wednesday.

Elated American Tommy Paul was the first man through to the Australian Open semi-finals on Wednesday. Photo: AAP

Tommy Paul is living the dream as he sets his sights on his first grand slam semi-final appearance after extending his surprise run deep into the Australian Open.

With his mum fresh off the plane – and sitting alongside his Insta-famous girlfriend Paige Lorenze at Rod Laver Arena – the 35th-ranked Paul outclassed unseeded countryman Ben Shelton in Wednesday’s quarter-final.

Paul prevailed in a tight first set and steadied after dropping the third to win 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 5-7 6-4.

In doing so, he became the first American since Andy Roddick in 2009 to reach the last four in Melbourne.

Paul has never previously been past the fourth round of a grand slam and is probably best known to Australian audiences as a close ally of Nick Kyrgios.

Now the 25-year-old has achieved what Kyrgios, who underwent knee surgery on Monday, has not yet by reaching the Open’s last four.

The result set up a blockbuster semi-final for Paul on Friday against either nine-time winner Novak Djokovic or fifth-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev.

“I was doing a couple of interviews and they were asking how I felt to be in the quarter-finals, and I was like, ‘semi-finals sounds a little better’,” Paul said.

“I’m pumped to be there and obviously really excited for whoever I play on Friday.

“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.”

Paul was a junior star, winning the 2015 French Open boys’ title and reaching the US Open junior final that year.

But he has just one tour-level title to his name.

Paul’s Open run has included wins over seeded Spaniards Roberto Bautista Agut (24) and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (30).

His last-four assignment against Djokovic or Rublev promises to be far tougher.

Whatever the result, Paul has already enjoyed the ride of his professional life in Melbourne.

And sharing it with those closest to him makes it all the more sweet.

“I’m just really excited right now because my mum, after I won in the round of 16, she hopped on a plane,” Paul said moments after sealing the win over Shelton.

“She’s right up there. She got here this morning.

“She went straight from work to the airport to get here and watch my match today.”

Paul also gave a birthday shout-out to social media influencer Lorenze, who turns 25 on Thursday and boasts 399,000 followers on Instagram.

Shelton’s loss ended his own surprise venture into the Open’s second week, where the United States had three men in the last eight of a grand slam for the first time since 2005.

The 20-year-old left-hander was a first-round loser in his only previous grand slam appearance, at last year’s US Open.

Ranked No.89, Shelton will rise at least into the top 50 for the first time on the back of his results in Melbourne.


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