Playing in his first ATP Tour match since his breakthrough run to the Australian Open semi-finals, Tommy Paul continued his red-hot form with a victory at the Delray Beach Open on Thursday. The second seed defeated countryman Denis Kudla 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the quarter-finals at the ATP 250.
Both players were part of the United States Davis Cup team that defeated Uzbekistan earlier this month, with both earning road singles victories. With the pair on opposite sides of the net in the U.S., Paul’s speed and athleticism helped him advance at his home tournament.
«It’s always nice to be home. I live like 15 minutes away from here,» said Paul, who hit seven aces and 14 winners. «It’s nice to play in front of of my friends and some of my family here. It’s easy to have my whole team here so it’s always a good time.»
While it took the American some time to adjust to the windy conditions in Delray Beach, he wrestled away control of the match by winning five straight games from 3-3 in the opening set. In holding for a 2-0 lead in set two, Paul saved what proved to be the last break point of the match for either man.
Paul won 12 of 16 points at the net in an aggressive display, while Kudla ventured forward just three times, winning one of those points.
Entering this week at a career-high of No. 18 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Paul must advance to the semi-finals to maintain his place in the Top 20. His next goal is to crack the Top 15.
“We’ve been putting in a lot of work here in Delray and in Boca,» he said. «I’ve been training a tonne, working on and off court. I feel like I’ve made a lot of jumps in my game so hopefully we can keep a good level going here this week and all the way through the rest of the year.”
Paul will meet Radu Albot in Friday’s quarter-finals after the Moldovan’s 6-4, 6-4 win against Aleksandar Vukic earlier on Thursday. Paul holds a 1-0 lead in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series, with a straight-sets win in Astana in 2020.