Paul’s 150th victory gives the key to SF in Rome

The American had never gone this far in an ATP Masters 1000 on clay

May 16, 2024

TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images

Tommy Paul was chasing 150 ATP Tour victories this Thursday in Rome.
By Staff

Tommy Paul is erasing this week an old prejudice against his country’s players: Americans cannot shine on clay. Nothing could be further from the truth, the No. 16 in the PIF ATP Rankings broke through this Thursday in the semifinals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

The No. 14 seed, who reached the quarterfinals after beating the reigning champion of Rome, Daniil Medvedev, continued his great week at the Foro Italico by also defeating the No. 7 seed Hubert Hurkacz 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, in two hours and 43 minutes.

“I started quite well, but it got away from me in the second set and at the beginning of the third,” Paul assessed his performance. “I had to resist, save a little energy for the third set. I started looking for the forehand more, I started hitting harder and playing with a little more intensity. “That was probably the key in the end.”

“My game plan was to get as many serve games as possible, try to get a couple of breaks,” the American acknowledged. “In that aspect, I did well today, but in the next match I have to focus a little more on holding my serve!”

Paul, who achieved two consecutive victories against a Top 10 for the first time, is the fifth American to reach the semifinals in Rome since 2000 and the first to do so since Reilly Opelka achieved it in 2021.

Americans in Rome SF (since 2000):
2024. Tommy Paul

2021. Reilly Opelka (p. with Nadal in SF)

2017. John Isner (with A. Zverev and SF)

2008. Andy Roddick (p. con Wawrinka en SF)

2005. Andre Agassi (p. with G. Coria in SF)

2002. Andy Roddick (p. with Haas en SF)

2002. Andre Agassi (v. a Haas en la final)

The player born in New Jersey 26 years ago had never gone this far in an ATP Masters 1000 on clay until today in Rome. He had done it twice before on North American territory, both in Toronto 2023 and in Indian Wells 2024. Then, Jannik Sinner and Medvedev, respectively, stopped his progression.

On the Italian clay he was able to stop a player who had a 10-2 record on the surface, lifting his first crown on clay in Estoril and leaving the ten-time champion on the way to the quarterfinals in Rome, Rafael Nadal, or great specialists like Tomás Etcheverry (third round) and Sebastián Báez (round of 16).

And he did it to add 150 victories in his career, a figure that only his compatriots Taylor Fritz (253) and Frances Tiafoe (187) can boast of.

And the equality that the Lexus ATP Head2Head expressed between both before starting the clash, with a distribution of victories for each side (1-1), was also manifested in the match, where a total of 13 breaks and 31 break opportunities were recorded. generated between both.

The remains dominated on serves in the first set, registering a total of five breaks. Paul, who signed one more (3 compared to Hurkacz’s 2) secured the first set after almost an hour, punishing 29% with second serves from the Pole.

The match seemed closer to the American side when it dominated 6-3, 2-0, but Hurkacz knew how to react in time to add a partial of six games out of a possible seven, which allowed him to fight for victory in the final set.

The third set had a script very similar to the first. The blows followed one another to the rest. And, despite the fact that the Pole was the first to gain an advantage (2-0), Paul managed to make it 2-2. Once again they broke serve again to tie 3-3. When it seemed that the tie-break could decide the match all or nothing, the American appeared to break Hurkacz again (5-3).

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In the last game of the match the madness continued. Hurkacz had up to six opportunities to break Paul. And the American responded with 3 match points without being able to convert. After seven ‘equals’, finally, the American closed his hard-fought victory.

In the semifinals in Rome, Paul awaits the winner of the match that opens the night session on the center court of the Foro Italico, which brings together the Chilean Nicolás Jarry with the No. 6 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Did you know…?

For the first time in his career, Tommy Paul linked two consecutive victories against Top 10 category opponents, after beating No. 4 Daniil Medvedev in the round of 16 and No. 9 Hubert Hurkacz in the quarterfinals.


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