Ben Shelton reaches the quarter-finals at the US Open, tennis’s rise continues


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NEW YORK – Rising US tennis star Ben Shelton advanced to the quarter-finals of the US Open on Sunday with a 6-4 6-3 4-6 6-4 victory over No. 14 Tommy Ball on Arthur Ashe Arena. Remarkably, this is the 20-year-old’s second Grand Slam quarter-final this season, matching his result at the Australian Open in January.

But what makes Shilton’s year unique is that he did not win back-to-back matches on the ATP Tour in any of the other 18 tournaments he entered between his two Grand Slam results.

By beating fellow American Paul, Chilton will reach a new career high of No. 27 at least in the world next week with a chance to rise even higher if he continues to progress.

He will face No. 10 seed Francis Tiafoe on Tuesday in the biggest match between American men’s tennis players in more than a decade.

Here are five things to know about box office Ben, who is poised to become a household name in American sports over the next decade.

Serve, serve, serve

Although many of Shelton’s tools are still immature—he grew up as a multi-sport athlete with a soccer focus until middle school—his serve has really matured.

At 6-foot-4, Shelton can generate tremendous power and kicks with great versatility in his position and trajectory. It’s just a shot that is difficult for opponents to read and respond to, and when Shilton’s serve kicks in he can get plenty of quick and easy stops.

He’s been building his strength at the US Open in particular, with many of them in the 130mph range. Against Paul, he even had a match with two serve of 149 miles per hour, which has been recorded as the fastest serve in the tournament so far.

He said, “Straightforward adrenaline.” “In any other atmosphere, I might not have been able to accomplish it.”

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Elite tennis dynasties

Shelton’s father, Brian Shelton, played on the ATP tour for nearly a decade after attending Georgia Tech, reaching a career high of No. 55 in 1992. The elder Shelton was known as a good grass-court player thanks to his serve and net match . Wimbledon fourth round in 1994 and won two ATP titles on grass at The Championships in Newport, Rhode Island.

After his playing career, he took over as the women’s coach at Georgia Tech in 2000 and won a national title seven years later. In 2013, he left for Florida to become a men’s coach and won the national championship in 2021 in Penn’s freshman season.

The following year, Penn won the NCAA men’s singles title and decided to turn professional after achieving good results in challenger-level events and upsetting three-time Grand Slam finalist Casper Rudd in Cincinnati.

After the college season ended earlier this year, Brian Shelton resigned from his position at Florida to focus on coaching his son full time.

years of learning

When Shelton left for Australia at the start of the year, it was not only his first time, but his first time in any country besides the United States.

While most top players spend years playing the elite junior circuit and junior Grand Slam tournaments before officially turning professional, Brian Shelton did not see international competition as a crucial step to build his son as a tennis player, noting that Ben was not even ranked. At the head of his band locally.

Although the unconventional path and focus on college tennis helped Shelton become more mature when he was finally ready for the tour, there was one downside: It was the first time he’d seen all of these tournaments. Prior to this spring, he had never played on red clay or grass, which are twisty surfaces that usually require some experience to understand the movement needed and how the ball reacts.

“I didn’t expect to be so high on those roofs right away,” he said. “I think that was the bit of a piece for me as I had to keep my point of view and know that I’m not supposed to go out here and win every game just because I did something well early in the season… I knew learning on these surfaces was going to be a challenge. in a short period of time.

It’s no surprise Shilton struggled during that part of the year, going 2-8 on clay and 2-3 on grass.

Because of his big early results, including the Australian Open quarter-final match, Shilton also scored a goal on his back very quickly. He didn’t have much of a honeymoon period as a newcomer whose game was unfamiliar to the senior players, and his weaknesses – returning serve and shot selection – were exposed.

Like almost all young players when they first go out on tour, he’s had to figure out different ways to win.

“It’s not always about hitting the person you’re playing with,” he said. “I’ve found that I’m here on tour, everyone’s really good at hitting the ball. You hit it hard, you hit it just as fast, and the players can play and they can play really well. I think having some variety and mixing and sorting things out is important for me and my style of play.”

Affiliation with Federer

When Shilton turned professional last summer, he signed with management agency TEAM8, co-founded by Roger Federer and his longtime agent Tony Godsick. Then, in March, Shelton signed a shoe and apparel deal with Swiss company On, in which Federer was an early investor.

The fact that Shilton has been chosen to be the face of that brand alongside women’s top seed Ija Swiatek suggests that Federer and his team have a high potential for Shilton. Federer appeared with the two at a promotional event in New York ahead of the US Open.

O’Ne Shelton was outfitted with a unique kit for the tournament: a white sleeveless shirt with a neon pink vertical panel running down the left side all the way from his shoulder to the bottom of his shorts.

Showman in the making

Shelton started earning the nickname “Box Office Ben” due to his explosive athleticism and how keenly inclined he was to the recreational side of tennis. Win or lose, any game for Shelton will produce plenty of high-profile performances followed by huge celebrations and screams and shouts. After the match point against Paul, he turned to his players’ area and pointed to his right biceps.

Although some may find his style a little over the top or more suited to the team setup he grew up on playing college tennis, Shilton is part of a new generation of players along with Tiafoe and Carlos Alcaraz who see themselves as more elite athletes than just tennis players and want to Playing with joy and making a show as well as winning matches.

“I think it’s really important to be in the right state of mind, to play the tennis that I like to be in,” he said. He added, “I feel when I try to put myself into that (mindset), to be professional, to be calm, to have a stern look on my face the whole time I’m playing, it takes some of my creativity out of playing.” pitch. When I’m having fun, I play some of my best tennis.

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