Tommy Paul is one of the most laid back players on the ATP Tour. Americans describe themselves as “frigid”.
But before his first-round match at the US Open, the 25-year-old was different. Coming into the tournament with a record of 0-4 at home Grand Slams, he was nervous.
“Before the tournament, I was so overwhelmed. I felt like I was late for everything because of the timing of my transportation from Tokyo to the site. I was stressed all the time,” Paul said. I was. “My team really felt it and they sat me down and said, ‘Dude, I need to relax.’ I am very laid back and very chill with everything. [The] The US Open has always blown me away. ”
Paul’s coach, Brad Stein, recalled that before Paul’s first round last year, he did a better job of hiding his stress from the team. I was able to do.
“He was very conscious of going into the game 0-4 last year. [Roberto] Carvarez Baena and last year he played really badly in that match. It was probably the worst game he’s played in years,” Stein said. “He was nervous coming in here again. He and I did a much better job recognizing that he was nervous again this year.
“We definitely did a good job this year. He admitted he was a little stressed and I was aware of the signs so we dealt with it more this year.”
Still, at Flushing Meadows Paul almost got nervous again. The 29th seed was in serious trouble going 2-1 against Spaniard Bernabe Zapata Miralles, who arrived in New York with three tour-level wins on hard courts.
“I didn’t feel good anywhere in the first round. I had cramps once in my life and in that fight I couldn’t open my hands. I was cramping with a hum, it was just nerves.” Paul said. “It’s nerves that cause a lot of people to have cramps. That’s what happened to me. I was very nervous.”
It was because Paul was putting pressure on himself. He was hungry for his first victory in the main draw of the US Open and was well positioned to get it. The American is enjoying the best season of his career, rising to a career-high No. 31 in the Pepperstone ATP rankings earlier this month.
“I was putting so much pressure on myself. I experienced a lot of disappointment in ,” said Paul. “Obviously it’s a home slum. You want to do well here. Every year you come here, you want to do well.
Paul found a way to beat Zapata Miralles. This was a huge sigh of relief. “Being here makes me feel like a completely different person,” said Paul.
He added: From going to breakfast to coming to the site, everything felt effortless. You know you don’t want to stress before a match.”
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A nervous Tommy Paul turned into the usual Tommy Paul, “Lucy Goosey”, as Stein described him.
“[The first-round win] Obviously, it relieved a lot of the tension and stress going into the match against Korda,” Stein said.
The 25-year-old played much more relaxed and better tennis in his second round match against 2021 Intesa San Paolo Next Generation ATP Finals finals runner-up Sebastian Korda, going out in five sets. This was his first ATP Head2Head win in his four tries against Korda. After the match, Paul returned to his antics.
“Last year I got Cilic three times, Korda three times, Bautista three times. said. “I had to get out of my daddy status from Korda and Cilic because three consecutive wins is like daddy. Now we are just competing. But Bautista is still my daddy!
A relaxed Paul is a dangerous player. One of the fastest players on tour with a heavy forehand, this American can compete with the best in the world. Paul will face No. 5-seeded Casper Rude in the ATP Head2Head series on Friday, where he is leading 2-1.
Most importantly, the pressure is gone and Paul can have fun again and enjoy showing the world his game.
“I think it shows. Every time I come here at the U.S. Open, I get so nervous, I don’t act like myself, I try to focus on the laser instead of myself and it doesn’t work,” Paul said. “I don’t know. I think I’m pretty relaxed in and out of tournaments. That’s when I play my best tennis.”