“I Don’t Want to Be a One-Hit Wonder”
By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday January 28, 2023
Tommy Paul hopes his major breakthrough at the 2023 Australian Open won’t be his last. The 25-year-old had a fantastic fortnight in Melbourne, where he became the first American to reach the semifinals at the Australian Open since Andy Roddick in 2009, but the taste of that experience was soured when was steamrolled by Novak Djokovic in semifinal action on Friday night.
“Walking on the court was cool,” Paul would later reflect. “Playing the match and getting beaten like that kind of sucked.”
Paul said that facing Djokovic on the court he has dominated for the last decade and a half was an experience like no other.
“It’s great I got to see the level of where I want to be and know how good I have to play if I want to beat people like that,” he said. “It was a good experience.”
Paul said he came to the court with clear tactical goals, hoping to use his slice, try some serve-and-volley, and test out his drop shot. He didn’t get to employ any of the aforementioned tactics, because Djokovic was too good on return and too consistent with his depth and pace.
“He didn’t really let me execute any game plan that I wanted to do,” he said. “I wanted to serve and volley some. I didn’t serve and volley once. It’s hard when my first-serve percentage was pretty well. When I did make my first serve, I felt like he was returning it to the baseline. I was automatically on defense.
“I Wanted to throw in dropshots. Didn’t get an opportunity to do any of that because he was hitting so deep. Wanted to change up pace with my slice. Missed my first three slices of the match. I was like, ‘Alright, I’m going to start hitting my backhand, I’m not slicing well today.’
“I mean, he didn’t let me do all those things because of things that he did so well.”
Tommy Paul explains what was his game plan against Novak Djokovic and what went wrong. Pretty honest and humble and makes us realize that our off-court perception is not always accurate, @BrainGameTennis. #AustralianOpen pic.twitter.com/hf4AChlyTY
— Dandan Gallagher (@dandangallagher) January 27, 2023
A great two weeks
Paul says he can take away nothing but positives from the experience, even if he did get steamrolled by Djokovic. No shame in taking a clinic from a 21-time major champion, right?
“Great two weeks for me,” he said. “Obviously got to carry it throughout the whole season. It’s about consistency, you know? I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder.
“I want to keep moving up the rankings, you know? It would be nice to end the year top 10. I feel like the way I started the year is the right path to do it. Obviously I have a lot of matches to win this year. Hopefully get some titles, too. I don’t want to just lose in the semifinals. I want to have my name on some trophies next year.”
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