Inside the rise of Ben Shelton: US tennis’ hot new prospect | Tennis | Sport

Inside the rise of Ben Shelton: US tennis’ hot new prospect | Tennis | Sport

Ben Shelton is dubbed “the future of American men’s tennis” – and his recent run at the Australian Open is proof of that. Since Andy Roddick lifted the US Open trophy in 2003, it’s a title that has no doubt weighed heavily in a nation that hasn’t enjoyed a men’s Grand Slam success since.

So far, however, the signs are good for the 6’3 [1.9m] Hailing from Atlanta, who offers an explosive left-handed serve that averages 126 mph.

The American turned pro just before last year’s US Open and quickly went viral for his incredible tweener en route to victory over 2022 French Open finalist Casper Ruud in a Masters 1000 match.

As the son of a former tennis professional turned coach, you could say Shelton was destined to follow his example. His father, Bryan, played from 1989 to 1997, reaching No. 55 in the world and winning two singles trophies on the ATP Tour.

Fast forward 26 years and his son, Ben, is ready to take the family name to new heights.

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The 20-year-old, who traveled abroad for the first time to compete at the Aus Open 2023, went there relatively unknown. But a standout performance in only his second Grand Slam tournament caught the attention of many.

In the first Slam of the year, Shelton – ranked No. 569 in the world just a year ago – beat Zhang Zhizhen, Nicolas Jarry, Alexei Popyrin and JJ Wolf on his dream debut at Melbourne Park.

Reflecting on his experience Down Under, Shelton said: “The crowds have been pretty amazing. They’ve been supporting me. I certainly didn’t expect it to be an American. It was really fun to be able to play with the support behind me during my matches. [I had] lots of smiles about it.

“I definitely exceeded my expectations this week, which I thought I could do on the court – not just in terms of tennis, but physically, being able to play as many three-out-of-five three-set matches as I did. I mean, I’ve only played one before in my career and I was pretty happy with myself in that aspect too.

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Shelton also admitted that his lack of travel outside the United States had lowered his expectations before the event may well have helped him.

He added: “I got on the plane with no expectations. I know it’s very difficult adjusting to Australia from the US with the jet lag, time change and everything.

“It was my first time coming out of the United States, I knew it would be difficult. But I think it may have helped me a bit, not to have this expectation or the feeling that I have to be efficient.”

Remarkably, Shelton balances his hunt for a Grand Slam title with his studies, as he added: “I feel good. It’s been a pretty special week for me. Definitely a lot on my plate, playing my first Grand Slam outside the United States. United States, I start school this week. It was a lot. But I’m really enjoying it so far.

“Every game I’ve won here has felt the same. It’s a mixture of joy, relief. I just have this feeling of ecstasy. When the last ball lands, I’ve done it. Being able to do that on this fourth leg time in a row, that feeling again and again, has been pretty cool.”

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