Time for Tommy Paul, Redux

Tommy Paul French Open 2021
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In this space, two years ago, the question of whether Tommy Paul could back of his statement of “I can play with anybody” was asked. After a pandemic-limited 2020 and a more normal 2021, the answer seems to be, “Yes, kind of.”

Two years after ending the season at world #90, the young American completed a more than solid, but not quite exceptional 2021. As the calendar turns to 2022, Paul can both look back on a successful campaign and still want more.

More Ups Than Downs

Paul realized his greatest professional accomplishment in his last 2021 event. The 24-year-old American claimed his first ATP Tour title by defeating world #18 Denis Shapovolov in the final of the Stockholm Open in early November. On the path to the title, Paul knocked out three players ranked ahead of him, Shapovolov, Frances Tiafoe, and Taylor Fritz. He also defeated legend Andy Murray on his way to the title.

The win at Stockholm capped off a year in which Paul nearly doubled his career ATP victory count. He entered 2021 with 26 tour level wins, he leaves the year with 51. His 25-23 record and prize money in excess of $800,000 made 2021 his most successful year to date.

Still Not Quite Elite

While Paul clearly made great strides in 2021, he needs to achieve more to back up his “play with anybody” claim. In matches against Top 10 opponents, Paul salvaged only one win against four losses. His victory over world #5 Andrey Rublev at Indian Wells marked his high water mark in top tier play.

Additionally, Paul suffered first round losses in seven ATP Tour Level event, more than once losing to an opponent with a significantly inferior ranking. Finally, matched up against an even younger up and coming American, Paul went 0-3 against 21-year-old American Sebastian Korda.

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2022 Will Bring…

2022 presents Paul with a nice opportunity to build on his success. His #43 world ranking, means he can play in most, if not all of the biggest events. If he can continue to improve, he can show he can play with anybody. At the same time, even younger players are now targeting Paul’s place in the rankings. To show he can play with anybody, he must make sure he is ready to play everybody. It is time for Tommy Paul to show what he can do, again.

Main Photo from Getty.