Paul Set For Top 20 Breakthrough Behind Australian Open Run
American men's tennis is on the rise, and few are climbing higher than Australian Open semi-finalist Tommy Paul.
During his run to his first Grand Slam semi-final, the 25-year-old has soared 16 places up the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings to No. 19, setting himself up to crack the Top 20 for the first time in Monday's edition of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
Paul just missed out on a seed at the Australian Open as the World No. 35, but has dropped only four sets in his five Melbourne matches thus far. He knocked off 24th seed Roberto Bautista Agut and 30th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on his path to the last four, where he will meet nine-time champion Novak Djokovic.
If Paul can pull off the upset, he will further rise to No. 15 by reaching the final and into the Top 10 at No. 9 with a title. Taylor Fritz, at No. 8 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, will remain the American No. 1 into February, while Frances Tiafoe makes it three men from the United States in the Top 20 at No. 15.
Paul is doubly proud of his success as it comes during such a purple patch for American tennis.
"It's important to me," he said in press following his quarter-final victory. "American tennis, since I was young, that's all we've been hearing, since like 14 years old. The coaches have been telling us, 'We need new Americans, we need new Americans.' It's kind of engraved in my head.
"We all want to perform. Obviously Frances was pretty damn close at the US Open to getting past the semis. Who knows what would have happened in the final. I think we all want it pretty bad for ourselves, but we want it for U.S. tennis, too."
Ten Americans now feature the Top 50 of the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, including former college stars Ben Shelton and J.J. Wolf. Shelton, in his first trip outside of his home nation, is the biggest mover of the fortnight; he rocketed up 46 places to No. 43 behind his Australian Open quarter-final run. One round prior to his four-set loss to Paul, the 20-year-old Shelton defeated Wolf in five sets. Wolf, with his best major showing, moved up 20 spots to No. 47.
Sebastian Korda is also set for a new career high of World No. 26 after he upset Daniil Medvedev and Hubert Hurkacz to reach the quarter-finals. With Korda, Shelton and Paul all reaching the last eight, it marked the first time since 2000 that three American men have reached that stage in Melbourne — and the first time at any Slam since the 2005 US Open.
The American presence in the Top 50 of the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings also includes No. 38 Jenson Brooksby, No. 41 John Isner, No. 48 Reilly Opelka and No. 49 Brandon Nakashima. After his first-round upset of Rafael Nadal, Mackenzie McDonald is up to No. 62, while Michael Mmoh is set for a new career high inside the Top 85 after his run to the third round.
Elsewhere, Jiri Lehecka's rise of 32 places is second only to Shelton's improvement, with the 21-year-old Czech up to No. 39 following his run to the Australian Open quarters.
Even with all those milestones, the drama is far from complete in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings this fortnight. While Karen Khachanov would rise as high as No. 7 with the Melbourne title, Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas are both two wins away from World No. 1. Should the pair meet in a rematch of the 2021 Roland Garros final, the winner-takes-all contest would determine who leaves the Australian Open as the ATP Tour's leading man.