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After 14 long years, an American male is finally back in the semifinals of the Australian Open after Tommy Paul defeated compatriot Ben Shelton 7-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in the quarterfinals.

Not since Andy Roddick in 2009 has a man donning the stars and stripes of the USA been to the final four at Melbourne Park.

A maiden major semifinal is just the next step in an abundance of accolades for this young American generation, which Paul is ecstatic to see.

“It's important to me. The coaches have been telling us that we need new Americans, we need new Americans. It's kind of engraved in my head. It’s all we’ve been hearing,” Paul said.

“We all want to perform. Obviously Frances was pretty damn close at US Open to getting past the semis. Who knows what would have happened in the final.

“I think we all want it pretty bad for ourselves, but we want it for U.S. tennis, too.”

The opening stanza of the contest remained on serve as it headed towards the tiebreak, which Paul would snatch 8-6 on his second set point.

In the second, the New Jersey-born 25-year-old would take an early break and hold on to clinch a commanding buffer.

Shelton, enjoying his first trip outside of the USA, was not to be deterred however, emerging from a break behind to force his fellow American to dig deep by forcing a fourth set.

Paul would gain a break early on before maintaining his service games to clinch a sensational victory in the most important match of his career.

It was a magnificent day on return for the Brad Stine-coached pupil, who withstood a bollocking barrage of 24 aces by Shelton to amass 15 break point opportunities.

While he admits his match was far from aesthetically pleasing, he is pleased with how he managed to find a way through and excited for the new challenge.

“I'm really excited. It wasn't like the prettiest match ever today, but it was how I needed to play the match,” Paul said.

“It was how the match I felt like was always going to be. He's a great server and I had to just put in as many returns as I could.”

Like Roddick, who faced Federer, Paul could face another member of the Big Three in the semis with Novak Djokovic and Andrey Rublev in the last quarterfinal, a prospect which excites him greatly.

“I think it's even cooler if I do play - I think I saw Novak 5-1 in the first or something. That's probably who I want to play,” he said.

“I mean, probably have a better chance of winning if it's Rublev, but to play Novak here in Australia would be awesome.”

Roddick is still the last American man to hoist a major trophy aloft, something which Paul hopes to replicate.

He speaks highly of the former US Open winner’s achievements and remembers purchasing his kits as a youngster.

“I remember I think at the place where I grew up playing tennis, we had the posters of him when he won in his Reebok fit,” Paul said.

“I was actually salty when he switched to Lacoste. I was like, He's not going to win another slam now. I thought it was the outfits.

“It was definitely something that I remember, Roddick winning the US Open.”


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