Ben Shelton is a breakthrough star at the US Open
Sep 04, 2023
I spoke with many tennis aficionados about Ben Shelton's shot against the US Open's 14th seed Tommy Paul. No one believed Shelton could win. After all, he faced off against Paul previously at the Australian Open quarters and folded. Not again. Shelton brought his massive serve to Arthur Ashe stadium yesterday and shocked the tennis world.
Amazingly, he served 149 miles per hour twice in one game. The crowd roared. Some gasped. All Paul could do was clap one hand against his racquet strings in absolute awe. Shelton put away Paul in four sets: 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, to reach his first US Open quarterfinal.
“I realized how important it is for me to believe in myself, believe that I can go all the way, the full distance, emotionally and physically, and now I have that belief here,” Shelton said in a post-match interview.
In contrast to most naysayers, Kurt Streeter at The New York Times foreshadowed something special. Streeter emphasized that Shelton is, "dripping with raw talent." Why? It's much more than the serve. According to Streeter, "Shelton can bend balls with heavy spin, flatten them for winners, or cut at them for precision volleys."
Needless to say, we're believers too. Shelton graced the most recent cover of Florida Tennis. Roger Federer is also a believer. Fed picked Shelton as the first male player signed to Swiss shoe company, On, where he's part owner.
Without a doubt, Shelton's got a bright future ahead. The former Florida Gator is just 20 years old and he's the youngest American to reach a US Open quarterfinal since 20-year-old Andy Roddick in 2002.
My take: Ben Shelton has got the goods to take down his next foe, Frances Tiafoe. And one thing is certain. Shelton will not be underestimated after yesterday's match.
Written by Florida Tennis' Executive Editor and Publisher Matt Pressman. Photo credits (from top to bottom): Mike Lawrence, Mike Lawrence, Rhea Nall, Mike Lawrence, Rhea Nall, Mike Lawrence (all courtesy of USTA).