Tennis Prose



Tommy Paul: The Quiet American

By Scoop Malinowski

Isner, Fritz, Opelka, Querrey, Tiafoe may be more high profile but American Tommy Paul is certainly on the radar of the ATP. He won his first title last year and has climbed up the rankings to no. 41 after several years of marginal results.

In 2021 Paul established himself as a force, he made QF at Indian Wells and won in Stockholm beating Denis Shapovalov 64 26 64 in his first final. During the year he beat Andrey Rublev, Taylor Fritz, Andy Murray and Frances Tiafoe.

“My first ATP title was definitely my number one goal (last) year,” he told the ATP site in November 2021. “And I actually got it at the last tournament of the year, just about as late as you can get it. Iā€™m happy with that, but I want to win more. I want to win a lot more.”

Paul, now 24, has proved he can win a lot of matches on different surfaces. His career record is 53-52 now including 21-18 in deciding sets (third or fifth) and 2-7 vs. top ten. In Grand Slams Paul is 5-9 and in Masters 1000 he’s 11-13. His progression indicates he’s ready to take the next step or leap in his evolution.

“My next goals are to win bigger titles. Win more 250s, 500s. I just want to play big matches against my friends deep in tournaments.”

This week in Adelaide Paul showed again he’s not afraid to conquer bigger name players as he just beat Tiafoe again yesterday 62 63. Last week in Adelaide he beat Taro Daniel and Jiri Vesely – both 64 in the third set – before falling in the QF to eventual champion Gael Monfils 64 61.

Paul’s rise has coincided with his hiring of Brad Stine as his full time coach three years ago, the same Brad Stine who once worked with former world no. 1 Jim Courier.

So while other more colorful, popular and flashy Americans garner more hype and attention, wouldn’t it be ironic if the next American to win a Grand Slam title was another guy in the shadows, you know, like Michael Chang, Jim Courier and Pete Sampras who overstepped the frontrunner Andre Agassi?

· · ·


  • Scoop Malinowski · January 11, 2022 at 9:47 am

    McDonald loses again. Nadal practiced yesterday with Schwartzman. Djokovic hit with a junior names James McCabe. Raducanu lost to Rybakina 61 60. Beginning to look like she caught lightning in a bottle for two weeks last year and may never come close again.

  • Vijay · January 11, 2022 at 2:58 pm

    Extremely unlikely Paul wins a GS. I like him a lot but his backhand is a liability. He can’t force the issue from that side, and unfortunately, with the athletes today, you can’t be a one-sided player. Top players 20 and 30 years ago all had some weakness (backhand, net game . . .), but that won’t cut it nowadays. You can only go so far with what Tommy Paul has.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 11, 2022 at 3:53 pm

    Vijay, Emma turned the sport upside down, she proved anyone can win a GS anytime, you see, and Tommy Paul has a little more pop than Sandgren who should have beaten Federer and made the AO SF. Paul can strike winners off both sides and great movement. I think Fritz is a little more mentally stronger than Paul based on last two years but things can change quickly in the sport, as Emma emphatically showed us.

  • vijay · January 11, 2022 at 5:35 pm

    Sure, Emma did it once. But the women’s game is different. Not so many all court players. And Emma got hot in a year with few of the top players playing or playing well. Timing is everything.

    Tommy Paul’s backhand is suspect. He may hit a few winners every now and then, but every time I see it, I feel like opponents must be salivating. Not going to it right away, but waiting for the important moments. Again, he may have been able to get away with such a game 30 years ago, but not today. I don’t think Courier, as much as I like him, would do very well in today’s game. Of course, he’d probably play very differently. Pat Rafter himself admitted that against Rafa, on a slick indoor court, he’d lose 62, 63.

    For all of Andy Roddick’s talents, the big three made him look pedestrian. And so did a lot of others. Tennis has changed, and someone like Tommy Paul needs a lot of things to work out the right way to win. Otherwise, he will always struggle, because nothing will come easily for him.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 11, 2022 at 5:51 pm

    Vijay, I think you are in for a big surprise with Paul’s results coming this year. We’ll see. I have seen him since he was a teenager and I believe he has something special and will crack the top 20 this year or better. I know it’s easy to think he is just another Spadea or Mardy Fish, I think winning Stockholm was a huge spark for him and the best is yet to come. As for Emma, I don’t think she got lucky and the timing was right for her to win a Grand Slam, she was the perfect storm and got on a roll due to her incredible play confidence desire and self belief. Magic can happen and she created tennis magic which some great players never do in their careers. I say it was a lot more than fortunate timing or some missing high ranked players. She somehow found a Grand Slam level of performance and sustained it for ten matches. No way anyone can diminish what she did.

  • vijay · January 12, 2022 at 10:49 am

    I’m happy to be surprised. I like Tommy Paul. He’s a good guy and a good player. I wasn’t diminishing Emma’s achievements. But I don’t think something like that would happen in the men’s side.

    One difference between Emma and Tommy is that Emma has an actual all-court game. She may lose, but she doesn’t have any actual weaknesses.

    The trouble with Tommy is that he has an obvious problem with his backhand, and has to work very hard to cover it up. The other issue for him (which Roddick didn’t have) is that it’s not obvious how he will win points when things aren’t going well for him. What can he fall back on? Not his serve. Not his net-play. Not his groundstrokes. What’s the weapon that will bail him out every time?

    Without an `old-reliable’ something, it’s incredibly hard to win in the men’s game. Grit and determination all matter, but so do technique and racquet-skills. That he’s done as well as he has is a testament to the former, not the latter.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 12, 2022 at 11:12 am

    Vijay, what Emma did can also happen in the mens game too because … of equality. We have been taught that anything a woman can do so too can a man ) I don’t see this blaring weakness you see in Paul’s backhand. If it looks stiff and rigid and not exactly Marat Safin Dave Nalbandian smooth so be it. Everyone raves about the backhands of Gasquet and Paire but aesthetics don’t always win major titles like Courier and Roddick’s allegedly bad backhands did. Paul won again yesterday and could win his second title in two months this week.

  • vijay · January 12, 2022 at 5:18 pm

    Like I said before, no chance Courier wins in today’s game, or Roddick for that matter. Andy knew that too, but at least he had a big serve. Probably why he quit relatively early.

    But since we are making bold predictions here, let me throw out one of my own. No American male player will win a Grand Slam this decade, other than Sebi Korda. Of course, I’m not saying Korda will win one, but just saying nobody else will for sure.

    The main reason is that I can’t see American men competing from the baseline with the Canadians or the Europeans or the S Americans on a consistent basis. They may for a match or two, but not over the long haul, and definitely not over a fortnight of 5-setters.

    Certainly no American male is going to win Wimbledon. Clay is out for sure too. That only leaves the US Open and whatever replaces the Australian Open. So the opportunities are fewer than one would hope.

    I would be thrilled to be wrong, but from what little I see of the lower ranked players, I think there’s a consistent failing of American men, to play from the back and craft a rally and point, from either side.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 12, 2022 at 6:11 pm

    Vijay your pessemism for US tennis is understandable. However I think your calculations are biased because of what you’ve seen in the last twenty years but it’s a lot different now. Right now USA tennis is very very strong and maybe as strong as Canada, Australia, Russia. There are two tiers, first group Fritz, Opelka, Paul, Tiafoe, all lurking around the top 25, all capable of a surge into the top ten. Then you have the second tier hot on their heels which is the perfect set up to threaten them to work hard and to stay on top of – Nakashima, Brooksby and of course Korda. These three all are rising fast and each showed tremendous results and potential last year and will only be better in 22. So that’s seven players right there who I feel all will be top 25 and or considerably higher (top 5). Then you have a few outsider wildcards who have progressed in the shadows – Kozlov won three Challengers at the end of 21. Escobedo just won a Challenger last week. Eubanks. Mmoh is still out there though he’s stagnated. McDonald is just about top 50 and he too can have a big year. Courier would have won majors and gotten to the top no matter what decade he was born, nothing was going to stop him. I don’t care if his backhand was as ugly as Edberg’s forehand or Muster’s backhand. Courier had enough game and the mental drive to always get to the top of tennis. Roddick also would have achieved what he achieved in any era, with the racquet, strings, etc. Roddick stopped because IMO he knew he couldn’t win majors anymore and he knew he could not beat Djokovic anymore, after the 62 61 loss at the London Olympics when he was confident took a lot of wind out of his sails.

  • vijay · January 13, 2022 at 1:11 am

    Vijay – the AO will not be replaced. I would bet on that.

    But yes, Emma does have an all round game. When she was very young she chose Federer as her role model. But I’m not sure if she has a killing shot. I think that’s essential in the women’s game. BJK called it your ‘bread and butter’ shot.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 13, 2022 at 8:09 am

    Vijay, Emma says Halep and Li Na were her tennis role models, I’ve not seen her mention Federer.

  • catherine · January 13, 2022 at 11:07 am

    Scoop – that comment above from Vijay was actually written by me. I don’t know what happened. Sometimes my computer plays up but I certainly didn’t hijack Vijay’s name and it wouldn’t have matched my email.

    Re Federer = the quote comes from something Emma said to an interviewer when she was young, maybe around 12/13. I found it on Youtube.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 13, 2022 at 3:29 pm

    OK Catherine I believe y0u or we have a ghost around here. Lately Raducanu is only saying Li Na and Halep were her hero tennis models. Not Federer.

  • Sam · January 16, 2022 at 1:04 am

    catherine wrote:

    Scoop ā€“ that comment above from Vijay was actually written by me


    Perhaps this site’s Web servers need a diagnostic checkup. šŸ˜‰

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 16, 2022 at 7:50 am

    I lean more towards Catherine forgetting who she was for a moment and typing in the wrong name over us needing a diagnostic check )



Find it!

Copyright 2010
To top