Following notable results in Atlanta and Washington in 2017, the 22-year-old American Tommy Paul couldn't maintain that level and struggled to find the form on the ATP Tour. That has all changed so far in 2020, with the Voorhees native reaching the first ATP semi-final as a qualifier in Adelaide, delivering his first Major victories in Melbourne and notching the first top-10 triumph on Wednesday night in Acapulco, beating world no.
7 and the last year's finalist Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 28 minutes. Facing each other for the first time, Paul lost 11 points in ten service games, fending off all four break chances and stealing the opponent's serve once in each set to seal the deal in straight sets.
Paul had 22 winners and 23 unforced errors, the same number as Zverev who hit only 13 winners, struggling to find free points with his initial shot and losing edge in the decisive moments to end his journey in the second round and finish the opening two months of the season with only six ATP wins, five of those from Melbourne.
Tommy held with an ace in the first game and broke Alexander a few minutes later with a forehand crosscourt winner, opening the advantage and confirming it with a hold at 15. Facing four break chances in the fourth game, Zverev stayed calm and erased them all to remain within one break deficit before Paul held with an ace that pushed him 4-1 in front.
Serving in game six, Tommy fended off four break chances (three with winners) and secured the opener with a forehand winner at 5-3 after 46 minutes, hoping for more of the same in set number two. There, Zverev repelled two break chances at 3-3 to remain in contention, unable to do anything on the return but at least hoping to reach a tie break.
Instead of that, he hit a double fault in the ninth game to give serve away and allow Tommy to seal the deal with a hold at 15 a few minutes later for his career-best win so far. "I tried to get a comfortable start, finding my rhythm and keeping the pressure on the other side.
The energy out there was nice, I don't think the entire crowd wanted me to win but the atmosphere was great. It's always tough to close the match against the big opponent but I just tried to keep it cool and focus on the first point at 5-4 in the second set.
Brad Stine is a great tennis IQ; he makes all those little adjustments easy for me. It's a good fit for my team, big time. I went out for a long time yesterday and let's see if I can repeat that tomorrow; there are many things to do in Acapulco."