Ben Shelton, the US Open surprise and the future of tennis?

Ben Shelton shined at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, New York, and will play in the semi-finals against Serbian Novak Djokovic, ranked second in the Professional Tennis Players Association rankings.

Photo: EFE – Will Oliver

With the Big Three in decline, with Novak Djokovic the only one still in power, the question of who will take the throne usually has a common answer: Carlos Alcaraz. However, in recent weeks, a new name has begun to attract attention, and that is Ben Shelton.

Benjamin Todd Shelton, 20, originally from Atlanta (USA), arrived at the table this week after eliminating compatriot Frances Tiafoe in the quarterfinals of the US Open. His next challenge will be Novak Djokovic and expectations are high.

Shelton is by no means the favorite, but he has qualities that explain his great potential. The key factor is his serve, a virtue for which his fourth-round opponent – Tommy Paul – ended up applauding him. This was a big deal, because with his serve he gave the ball a speed of 236 km/h, a Grand Slam record.

At the end of last year, the young American tennis player turned professional and won important victories, given that Tiafoe was not the first tennis player in the ATP top ten who knew how to beat him. Previously, he faced Casper Ruud in the Masters 1000 tournament in Cincinnati and also achieved victory.

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Shelton grew up with tennis in his veins, as his father, Brian Shelton, was a professional between 1989 and 1997, and during his time in the elite, he won two titles in the 250 tournament, and his best position in the international rankings was 55th place. His wife, Lisa – Ben’s mother – played tennis at the junior level. His brother-in-law Todd Waitskin was also a professional and top 50 player.

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In the midst of that context, Big Ben watchKahn, as he was also known as a promising tennis player, had the perfect environment to exploit his circumstances. He played for the tennis team at the University of Florida, where his father was a coach. Although he initially wanted to play American football, he eventually chose to bat.

Hoping to delve deeper into the world of white sports, Benjamin told his father that he wanted to participate in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) youth tournaments. Brian told him it wasn’t pointed out, because the traveling players would have interfered with his training routine. Following this trend later paid off.

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He turned professional in 2022 and in the same year became the youngest player in ATP Challenger Tour history to win three titles in three consecutive weeks.

The first time he participated in the main draw of a Grand Slam was at the end of 2022, when he participated in the US Open and was eliminated in the first round. His first major appearance came in January this year, when he advanced to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open.

In his experience in Oceania, Shelton defeated the Chinese Zhang Zhichen, the Chilean Nicholas Jarry and his compatriot JJ Wolff, but Tommy Paul put an end to his dream. However, his name began to resonate in the ring and expectations grew.

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With a secret participation in the Masters 1000 tournament for this year 2023, in addition to short steps through Roland Garros and Wimbledon, he left the limelight, but he showed his teeth again in recent days. In addition to taking revenge on Paul, he defeated Dominic Thiem – the champion of this competition in 2020 – who was not at his best due to several injuries to his wrist, and the Russian Aslan Karatsev.

In his fifth World Cup appearance, he reached the semifinals and is the youngest 20-year-old American to do so since Michael Chang, in 1992. With his impressive performance at Flushing Meadows, he will not only have the honor of facing Djokovic, but also… He has already secured his place in the top 20 of the ATP Rankings.

Although he will never be able to fulfill his dream of playing professionally against his idol Roger Federer, the Swiss is somehow present in his career, as On, the sports brand in which His Majesty invests, has sponsored him ever since. March of this year.

There is still a long way to go and there is still time to see if Shilton will live up to expectations, but it is undeniable that for his age and experience on the track, what he has achieved so far is admirable.

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