American tennis star Tommy Paul is through to the fourth round of the 2023 US Open.
The world No. 14 has found a lucky charm in 11-year-old Eddie from Brooklyn, New York.
Insider spoke to the young fan, whom Paul told Insider he "definitely heard" at Arthur Ashe on Friday.
NEW YORK — American star Tommy Paul is quickly becoming a staple among tennis' upper echelons.
The 26-year-old — currently the world's 14th-ranked player — is enjoying the best year of his still-young tennis career. Paul advanced to his first-ever Grand Slam semifinal at the 2023 Australian Open.
He's closing out the season with his best-ever result at his home Slam. Paul is headed to the fourth round of the 2023 US Open, and he has a secret weapon on his side: an 11-year-old named Eddie.
"My dad's been taking me to games since I was 3," Eddie told Insider Friday. "And I've been watching Tommy [Paul] since his childhood games."
Eddie caught Paul's attention during his second-round match of this year's US Open, when he was struggling against Russia's Roman Safiullin. Down two sets to open the contest, Paul recalled the young Brooklynite being "the only one" within earshot encouraging him to keep fighting.
"He really got me through that match," Paul said.
The 6-foot-1 righty went on to win the next three sets to secure the victory and advance in the tournament. He offered Eddie his shirt after the match, and during his subsequent press conference, he applauded the 11-year-old for being "in my ear" keeping him motivated.
"It was actually really fun every time I went over there," Paul said with a smile. "He was encouraging me, I mean, damn near coaching me. I had to go over there and give him some love."
"I told him, 'Dude, you have to come to the next one,'" he added. "'Get in contact with me, message me on Instagram or whatever, and we'll get it hooked up.'"
Tommy Paul dishing out souvenirs after his big comeback! pic.twitter.com/URHhUSz4MI
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 31, 2023
Paul told Insider his team had invited his good luck charm to sit in his player box for Friday's match, "but he ended up getting better tickets right on the side of the court." Sure enough, Eddie was sitting courtside at Arthur Ashe Stadium as Paul took on Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.
He said that he'd never had seats that close to the action on center court.
"It's crazy," Eddie told Insider. "It's amazing and I'm really happy for him being on Ashe."
If he was intimidated by the much larger venue — the largest tennis arena on the planet, in fact — Eddie sure didn't show it. He was right back in Paul's ear from the very first serve of Friday's match.
When Paul lost a point, Eddie shouted "Let's go, Tommy, right back!" And when Paul hit an ace on the very next point, he leaped out of his seat with a fist in the air to yell "That's what I'm talking about!"
Eddie was also responsible for several "Here we go, Tommy, here we go!" chants that reverberated across the arena.
Eddie was so loud, his voice carried through to ESPN's broadcast of Friday's four-set match. And he didn't relent for 2 hours and 19 minutes, much of which he spent in the blazing sun.
More than once, he appeared to catch Paul's eye mid-match. And in his post-match press conference, Paul confirmed that he "was definitely hearing him" through the raucous crowd.
Eddie even got louder after he dropped the third set, Paul said. The cheers helped power him to the 6-1, 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 victory in his very first appearance at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"And we're not done yet," Eddie told Insider with a smile.
Paul agrees; it's we, not me.
"I'm not playing a match here without him," he said in his on-court interview Friday, then turned directly to Eddie. "So you're coming back!"
"I'm not playing a match here without him"
Tommy Paul's biggest fan is here to stay! pic.twitter.com/7xx3YLSLTQ
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 1, 2023
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