Tommy Paul’s upset bid falls short in epic five set thriller at the US Open

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US Open 2022
Roberto Bautista Agut, of Spain, serves to J.J. Wolf, of the United States, during the first round of the US Open tennis championships, Monday, Aug. 29, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Tommy Paul and Casper Ruud played epic four-and-a-half hours of tennis in the third round of the US Open. It was a shame that anybody had to be eliminated after that showing. Unfortunately, somebody did and it happened to be the American. 

Tommy Paul had to battle just to get to the third round. His first-round match with Bernabe Zapata Miralles went to five sets before he pulled out a 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 6-0, 7-5 victory. His second-round match against fellow American Sebastian Korda went to five sets before Paul battled back to secure a 6-0, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win. 

Each time he battled back from down two sets to one to secure a victory. Unfortunately, there was no comeback for the 25-year-old American on Friday as he fell to 5th-seed Casper Ruud 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-2), 5-7, 6-0. 

There almost didn’t have to be a comeback either. Paul was leading 6-5 in the third set and serving for the match. He was up 40-0 and had a triple break point. Three straight unforced errors later and it was deuce. 

After Paul won the advantage, he had another unforced error on his forehand, which forced another deuce. He would then mishit an overhead that allowed the Norwegian to force the set into a tiebreaker. A tiebreaker Ruud would control. 

Paul started the fourth set by mishitting yet another overhead and then double-faulted. He would trail 40-15 before battling back to win the game after two deuces. There was simply no quit in the 29th-seeded American. 

The two traded service games, hitting incredible shot after incredible shot in front of a packed house at Louis Armstrong Stadium. With Paul leading 6-5 in the fourth, he was finally able to break Rudd, winning every point of the 12th game of the set in order to win 7-5 and force a fifth set. 

The crowd was raucous, chanting the young American’s name and urging him towards victory. Unfortunately, playing over ten hours of tennis across three matches simply caught up to Paul, who had nothing left in the fifth and final set. 

At the end of the day, it was a valiant effort by Tommy Paul, who played some tremendous tennis, but his aggressive style of play simply got the best of him. He was able to register 61 winners and break Ruud on five of his six break point chances, but you can’t make 82 unforced errors against the best players in the world and expect to win. No matter how naturally talented you may be. 

With the way that Paul had been playing this year, and in this match, a third-round exit somehow felt too early. He was 29-21 on the season, including a Round of 16 finish at Wimbledon. During the summer stretch, he excelled on the hard courts, going 2011, and rising to 31st in the world at one point in early August. 

All summer, Paul flashed a powerful forehand and a dynamic serve. He won 71% of his first serve points and 80% of his service games on the ATP tour in 2022. His aggressive style of play and all-out effort won fans in droves. 

While his US Open run may have ended today, tennis fans could very well get used to seeing Tommy Paul playing in big matches for the next few years. If he can stay out of his own way, we may even be accustomed to seeing him come out on top. 

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Tommy Paul vs Casper Ruud at the US Open
Tommy Paul hits a forehand against Casper Ruud at the US Open (photo courtesy of the writer)