Tommy Paul became the first male American player to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open since Andy Roddick in 2009 by beating Ben Shelton on Wednesday (January 25).
After the match, the 25-year-old recalled Roddick's triumph at the 2003 US Open and how as a youngster, he believed that winning a Major was somehow connected to the players' outfits.
Roddick's victory at Flushing Meadows was the last time an American man won a Grand Slam title. He went on to reach Major finals four more times but lost all of them to the legendary Roger Federer. Paul, who was six years old when Roddick won his only Major, remembers his posters of Roddick in the Reebokok outfit.
"I think that's like right when I started playing tennis. But, yeah, I mean, I remember I think at the place where I grew up playing tennis, we had the posters of him when he won in his Reebok fit," Paul said. "I was actually salty when he switched to Lacoste. I was like, 'He's not going to win another slam now.' I thought it was the outfits (smiling)."
"Yeah, I mean, I remember it, but just, I don't actually remember watching the match. It was definitely something that I remember, Roddick winning the US Open," he added.
Playing at the Rod Laver Arena for the first time in their careers, Paul and Ben Shelton were at their aggressive best on Wednesday, as they fought for a spot in the last four.
It was the 35th-ranked player who used his experience to defeat 20-year-old Shelton 7-6 (6), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in three hours and six minutes, and reached his first Grand Slam semi-final.
Tommy Paul faces Novak Djokovic in Australian Open 2023 semi-finals
Tommy Paul will square off against nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals on Friday, January 27. This will be their first tour-level meeting. Djokovic reached the last four on the back of a dominant straight-sets win (6-1, 6-2, 6-4) against Andrey Rublev.
After achieving his best result at a Major, Paul expressed his happiness in his on-court interview, while praising his quarter-final opponent Ben Shelton.
"Making it to the second weekend of a Slam, that's everyone's dream when they start playing tennis. So I can't believe I'm here right now," Tommy Paul said. "I'm really happy to get through that match. Ben's a very tough player to play against and he's going to be in many more matches like this, so I think everyone should be really excited for that kid."