Tommy Paul: Stepping into the spotlight
As Team World erupted into scenes of unbridled joy after winning its first Laver Cup at The O2 in London last year, Tommy Paul joined in the celebrations and set himself another career goal.
He wanted to be there in Vancouver for the sixth edition when John McEnroe’s team would defend the Cup, and sought to contribute points to the team’s quest for a second title.
“When I got the call from Johnny Mac I was really, really excited,” says Paul, who supported Team World as an alternate in 2022, practicing with his teammates and cheering from the bench. “I knew if I had some good results I could get on the team, so when I got the call I was super pumped.”
Paul’s impressive form on the ATP Tour this season sealed his place on the six-man team. He enters the competition as the third-highest ranked American and achieved a career-high No.13 ranking in August after defeating world No.1 Carlos Alcaraz en route to his first ATP Masters 1000 semifinal in Toronto.
“Tommy’s been on the tear lately, so I’m excited to see him do some damage at the Laver Cup,” says teammate Ben Shelton, who won a hard-fought fourth-round battle against his compatriot at US Open 2023.
“He loves team events, he’s going to wanna put the numbers on the board for us,” says Frances Tiafoe. “All those guys will, but especially him.”
How it’s going
Paul brings the confidence of a career-best season to his Team World debut, and with the knowledge that his game translates well to all surfaces, conditions, and settings.
“Tommy’s one of the best movers that I’ve ever played, I think the world is starting to see that now and how great he can play,” says this year’s Team World alternate, Chris Eubanks.
Paul began the season by becoming the first American man to reach an Australian Open semifinal since Andy Roddick in 2009.
“It won’t be his first time playing in the later rounds of Slams so I’m really excited to see his success,” adds Eubanks.
In addition to reaching the semis at Toronto, he made the finals at Acapulco and Eastbourne, having won his first ATP Tour singles title in Stockholm in 2021.
Paul at the Laver Cup
Watching Laver Cup 2022 intently from the sidelines, Paul is familiar with “how crazy one match can really turn the event around.”
“I was there for support but I knew the team had a good shot,” he says. “Felix really gave the team a bunch of life, he played an unbelievable match against Novak and Jack played some really good doubles.
“We all love the team environment, playing for more than just yourself. You’re part of the World. It’s a really cool event for all of us.”
Alongside legendary Captains Bjorn Borg and McEnroe – whose classic matches he has watched repeatedly on YouTube – Paul also has a deep reverence for Rod Laver, for whom the Laver Cup is named.
“I know that he’s one of the biggest legends in tennis ever,” he says. “He has won the calendar Grand Slam twice. That’s a pretty unbelievable accomplishment. He’s all for making tennis better. He’s always wanting to support tennis.
“He didn’t leave the game and just disappear, he’s always trying to give back to the game and I think that’s something all the players respect a ton.”
What he relishes most about Laver Cup is the team atmosphere and getting his fellow players amped up in the locker-room before each session. “I love that,” says Paul, who is described by one of his closes teammates, Taylor Fritz, as a “laid back” and “super funny” guy.
“I didn’t really get a chance to experience that in college so it’s really cool to have that now,” says Paul.
“Hopefully I can bring some good level and put some points on the scoreboard. For me, that’s my goal.”
“To win the Laver Cup we need to take care of our doubles matches. I think that’s massive. Some of the match-ups can go in our favor in singles but taking care of the doubles points is huge.”