Tommy Paul booked a place in his first ATP Tour final on Friday at the Stockholm Open, snapping a three-match losing streak against Frances Tiafoe with his first victory over his fellow American since playing juniors.
One day after beating Andy Murray, the American backed up the performance with a high-quality performance to overcome eighth-seed Tiafoe 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-4 in two hours and 30 minutes.
“I haven’t got a win over Frances since juniors, so that was a big win for me,” said Paul. “That was the best level I’ve played all year long. He was playing amazing tennis for the first two sets, and I played my highest level in the third set.
“It wasn’t fun to be broken at 5-5 in the second set, again, but I knew if I stayed tough he may give me a couple of looks. I tried to have fun, and I ended up playing my best tennis. The more matches I’ve played, the more comfortable I’ve played in pressure situations. I’ve enjoyed playing in front of the big crowds.”
Tiafoe’s movement up the court put Paul under pressure in the latter stages of the 50-minute first set, which turned at 5-5. Paul jumped to a 2-0 lead, courtesy of a lapse in concentration from Tiafoe in the second set, but the World No. 53 was soon pinned back. The pair again exchanged service breaks prior to a high quality tie-break with Paul striking a forehand winner down the line at 5/5 on Tiafoe’s serve.
Paul’s patience was rewarded in the third game of the decider, when he chased down a drop shot for a winner on his fourth break point at 1-1. Paul remained focused and lost just two of his next 16 service points.
Tiafoe, who reached the Erste Bank Open final (l. to Tiafoe) two weeks ago, drops to 32-24 on the season. He’d beaten Paul in February 2020 at the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com and in two other matches on the ITF Futures and ATP Challenger Tour in 2015 and 2016.
FOLLOW THIS WEEK’S ACTION
Stockholm Doubles Final Set
Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer booked their places in a 10th team final (4-5 record) on Friday with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Swedish wild cards Markus Eriksson and Elias Ymer. They will face Santiago Gonzalez and Andres Molteni, winners of the Astana Open in September, who defeated Emil Ruusuvuori and Botic van de Zandschulp 7-6(2), 6-2.