Tommy Paul ‘s rewards for playing “naked” at Queen’s: lifetime membership and U.S. No. 1

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LONDON – As tradition dictates at The Queen’s Club, Tommy Paul received from the hands of the director a card accrediting him as an honorary member for life of one of the most expensive and exclusive clubs in London: “It feels good, and to think I’m still struggling to get into some clubs in Florida!”.

The American won the prestigious ATP 500 at The Queen’s Club with a solid victory in the final over Italian Lorenzo Musetti 6-1, 7-6(8) and will appear this Monday as the best of his country in the ATP ranking (12th).

Tommy Paul
Tommy Paul received as a prize a lifetime membership in Queen’s Club / SEBASTIÁN VARELA

Paul overcame Taylor Fritz, his friend since he moved to the southeastern United States to train at the USTA headquarters in Florida. Fritz was also a presence at Queen’s all week as he and Karen Khachanov reached the doubles final.

“It’s not something we talk about or joke about. We have the same goals, big goals, we want to be top 10. It’s an honor to be the best in the United States right now. We run a healthy competition, all of us Americans get along and push each other up. Frances (Tiafoe) texted me last night ‘finish your food,’ as a motivational message,” Paul said at a press conference when asked by CLAY.

Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka and Tommy Paul during their first years of their friendship.

He watched videos of the legends who played and won the tournament, and found motivation in seeing the photos of John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray lifting the trophy on the West Kensington’s grass on the club’s walls.

“I’m very proud to have put my name on the trophy alongside so many other top players. It’s not only the best tournament I’ve won, it’s also one of the coolest in the world, full of history. It feels spectacular,” said the 27-year-old who will arrive at Wimbledon with 28 wins on the year and two titles on the season.

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Does Paul feel like he’s playing “naked”?

At Indian Wells, a video of him explaining a term taught to him by his Argentine physiotherapist, widely used in South America, went viral: “When someone is playing amazing, they say they are ‘playing naked’.”

“Yes, I played very good tennis this week. But even if I feel like I’m playing very well and even if I win the title, I’m always going to find something to improve. So I’ll take Monday to relax and celebrate the achievement, and I’ll be ready to work on Tuesday thinking about Wimbledon,” explained the world number 12.

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