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J.J. Wolf is into the fourth round at a major for the first time.

Wolf's Monday: Cincinnati Bengals & The Biggest Match Of His Life

American to face countryman Shelton in AO fourth round

Monday will be a massive day for J.J. Wolf, and not just because he will compete in the fourth round at the Australian Open.

The Cincinnati native will be waking up early to watch his hometown Cincinnati Bengals play in the NFL Playoffs against the Buffalo Bills. The football game begins at 7 a.m. in Melbourne.

“I’m going to have to. There’s no way I’m missing that,” Wolf said. “I’ve got my jersey and everything, so I’ll be rocking it.”

Wolf will be wearing a Joe Burrow jersey, which his father got him for Christmas. Bengals quarterback Burrow and Wolf both attended Ohio State University for three years.

But the American’s overall focus will be on his match against countryman Ben Shelton. Both men are in the fourth round on their Australian Open main draw debuts.

“It means the world,” Wolf said. “I try not to think about results too much, but when you put in a lot of hard work and you see some results, it’s hard not to let that soak in a little bit.”

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This time last year, Wolf was outside the Top 200 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. With his victory against countryman Michael Mmoh in the third round, he is No. 46 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.

“I actually didn’t know,” Wolf said. “One of my friends texted me ‘Congratulations on Top 50’, so I found out that way. But my end goal wasn’t to be Top 50, so it feels good for the time being, but it’s just another stepping stone.”

Wolf does not have a specific goal in mind. Instead, he wants to see how good he can be. The 24-year-old is feeling well right now in Melbourne.

“I think [my confidence is] in a good spot. I’ve never been one of these players that’s so outwardly confident that it benefits them. I think I could always use a little bit more confidence. I think I did a lot more losing in tennis growing up than a lot of other players that made it to the pros, just from me not playing very much tennis until the middle of high school,” Wolf said. “So I think that always thinking you’re the best kind of hasn’t been instilled in me.

“I’ve always kind of been like a workman mentality towards it. So I think I’m starting to build a little bit more confidence for sure.”

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The American explained that he believes he hates losing more than he loves winning. One loss that sticks out is from his freshman year of high school at Cincinnati Country Day. He lost in the final of the Ohio State High School State Tournament against his teammate, Asher Hirsch. That ended up being his lone chance at the trophy because he did not play high school tennis after that.

But Wolf is making up for that now in Melbourne. He might not have proven himself the best high school singles player in Ohio, but he is into the last 16 at one of the biggest tournaments in the world.

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