US Open star highlights American ‘curse’ that gave him dreaded fear mid-match

Tommy Paul revealed that the American players had become superstitious of a “curse” of winning bagel sets at this year’s US Open. The 14th seed advanced to the second week with a 6-1 6-0 3-6 6-3 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. But Paul admitted that he was thinking about the curse after taking the second set 6-0.

Paul reached the second week of the US Open for the first time in his career, downing Davidovich Fokina in two hours and 19 minutes. The American raced through the first two sets for the loss of just one game before the 21st seed stormed back and won the third set.

After the match, the 26-year-old revealed that he wasn’t surprised to lose the third set after the American players became superstitious about a “curse” of winning sets by six games to love. “Well, this is going to sound funny. We have, like, a thing between most of the Americans where we think when people win a set 6-0 it’s, like, a curse that you always lose the next set,” the world No 14 said.

Laughing, Paul claimed that he had been thinking about the jinx before and after winning the second set. He continued: “To be honest, like, I was thinking about it there in the third.

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“I was looking up at my team, I was, like, Oh, God, like I’m going to win this set 6-0. I was serving 5-0. I was like, Oh, no. Yeah. But I was thinking about that, and he obviously picked up his level a ton.”

And the American did give credit to his opponent for fighting his way back into the match despite expecting to lose the third set. “Yeah, I mean, I think he earned the third set from me. I didn’t, like, gift it to him by any means. And then I knew the fourth set was going to be a battle. I just tried to, like, reset it and get back into the groove of things,” he added.

While the American players have been joking about the 6-0 curse, they have been performing well at their home Grand Slam tournament. Frances Tiafoe and Ben Shelton joined Paul in the second week while Taylor Fritz will try to follow them.

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On the women’s side, Taylor Townsend upset 19th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia before falling in the third round. Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula came into the US Open as title favourites after winning Cincinnati and Canada respectively and are both through to round three.

Discussing the current wave of American tennis, Paul said: “think there is very healthy competition amongst all of us. I mean, in no way would I say jealousy between us, but, like, we push each other with results or in practice. Like, we’ll practice with each other a ton and we’ll push each other through practice.”

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