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Tommy Paul into first ATP final, plays Shapovalov in Stockholm

VTB Kremlin Cup - Day Three

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 20: Tommy Paul of the United States plays a shot against Marin Cilic of Croatia during on Day Three of the VTB Kremlin Cup at Central court of the Irina Viner-Usmanova Gymnastics Palace and the Palace of Sports on October 20, 2021 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)

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STOCKHOLM - Tommy Paul reached his first ATP Tour final by outlasting fellow American Frances Tiafoe at the Stockholm Open.

With a 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-4 win, the 24-year-old Paul followed up his victory over Andy Murray in the quarterfinals in what is proving to be a breakthrough tournament for the former junior French Open champion.

“That was the best level I’ve played all year long,” Paul said after his comeback win that took 2 hours, 30 minutes.

To claim his first senior title, Paul will have to get past defending champion Denis Shapovalov, who won an all-Canadian semifinal against Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 7-5 in just under two hours.

Shapovalov won the title in Stockholm in 2019 and the 2020 edition was canceled after the coronavirus outbreak.

Tiafoe was looking to reach his second final in three tournaments - after the Erste Bank Open in Vienna two weeks ago - by recording a fourth straight win over Paul since their days in the juniors.

Paul finished the match stronger, though, chasing down a drop shot for a winner on his fourth break point to make it 2-1 in the third set and then losing just two of his next 16 service points.

“I tried to have fun, and I ended up playing my best tennis,” said Paul, who was born in New Jersey. “The more matches I’ve played, the more comfortable I’ve played in pressure situations. I’ve enjoyed playing in front of the big crowds.”