Tommy Paul wins first
ATP title in Stockholm
Victoria Chiesa | November 13, 2021
For the first time in 15 years, an American man was the last player standing at the Stockholm Open. Unseeded Tommy Paul won his first ATP singles title with an inspired effort in the Swedish capital this week, capping it in style with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 victory over No. 3 seed Denis Shapovalov in Saturday's final.
James Blake was the last American champion in Stockholm in 2006, and Paul's effort in the penultimate tournament of 2021 crowned him the season's 10th first-time ATP singles champion. Over the course of the week, Paul defeated wildcard Leo Borg—son of the legendary Bjorn—No. 5 seed Taylor Fritz, Andy Murray and No. 8 seed Frances Tiafoe before dethroning reigning champion Shapovalov in the final. The Canadian won the title when the event was last played in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.ADVERTISEMENT
Paul is the 10th American to win the storied event that dates back to 1969 and boasts Arthur Ashe, John McEnroe and Stan Smith among its former champions.
"I played some of my best tennis to beat Denis," Paul said in his victory speech. "This is the most fun I've ever had playing a tennis tournament. I've been working so hard to get my first title with my coach Brad [Stine] and then with people at home that aren't even here. A lot of work done behind the scenes. I just have to continue to do it."
Paul's 6-4, 6-4 victory against Fritz in the second round avenged a defeat from less than a month ago in St. Petersburg, Russia, and he had also lost his only prior meeting with Tiafoe. Tiafoe served for the win in the semifinals at 7-5, 6-5, but Paul never allowed him to reach match point and struck 41 winners in an eventual 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-4 victory. Paul also needed three sets (6-2, 3-6, 6-3) to beat a resurgent Murray in the last eight after the former world No. 1 defeated top seed Jannik Sinner in the second round.
Winning the ATP 250 event puts Paul inside the Top 50 for the first time at a career-high world No. 43, but after attaining a self-described "short-term goal," the 25-year-old says he's shooting for more in 2022.
"I'm definitely not where I want to be yet. I want to keep winning and moving up in the rankings," Paul added. "Hopefully, I can get to the Top 30, Top 20 or somewhere around there. I just want to win a lot of matches next year."