Tommy Paul is in the middle of a deep run in the 2023 Australian Open as an unseeded player. Late Tuesday night, he defeated fellow American Ben Shelton 7-6 (6), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in the quarterfinals to become just the fourth American man to make a Grand Slam semifinal since 2017.
This is the first major semifinal of his career, but he has shown multiple times that he shouldn't be overlooked -- even in this very tournament. He's already taken care of two seeded opponents in Australia -- No. 30 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and No. 24 Roberto Bautista Agut.
"I like to think the last four years of my career has just been like steady steps moving up," Paul said after the win, according to the Associated Press. "I mean, that's what it's felt like. I feel like hopefully 2023 is the year where I really make a big jump."
Americans Paul, Shelton and No. 29 Sebastian Korda all reached the final eight, becoming the most American men to reach quarterfinals at a Grand Slam since Andre Agassi, Robby Ginepri and James Blake in the 2005 U.S. Open. Korda retired against Karen Khachanov due to a wrist injury.
Paul is currently ranked No. 35 in the world, but reached a career-high No. 28 last September. He came into Melbourne having made it to the fourth round of last year's Wimbledon and the third round of the U.S. Open. The 25-year-old budding star also reached the second round of the French Open in 2020, 2021, and has registered wins over top opponents including Carlos Alcaraz, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Alexander Zverev.
"I'm really excited. It's every person's dream when they start playing tennis to play the big matches at the Slam," he said.
Another big match lies ahead for the American, as 21-time Grand Slam singles champion Novak Djokovic is waiting for him in the semifinals.
After taking down Agut in the third round, Paul said he wasn't satisfied because "semifinal sounds a lot better than quarterfinal every day of the week." He'll get a shot to make the final now.