Florida wins as Gauff and Shelton move on to the US Open semifinals
Sep 06, 2023
Delray Beach-based Coco Gauff made quick work of Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, 6-0, 6-2. It took only 63 minutes for Gauff to chalk up another win on her way to a US Open semifinal. Coming off recent titles in Cincinnati and Washington, D.C., Gauff was expected to go deep in the tournament.
That wasn’t the case with unseeded Ben Shelton. The Florida Gator took home the NCAA singles championship last year but experienced a rocky road on tour. Shelton reached the quarters of the Australian Open but couldn’t win back-to-back matches after his big debut down under. Then came the US Open. The big-serving Shelton blazed his way past fellow American, Frances Tiafoe, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-2, last night to reach his first grand slam semifinal.
Above: Ben Shelton battled sweltering conditions in last night's heated battle with fellow American France Tiafoe. Photo by Todd Pechter for Florida Tennis.
What did the Florida duo have to say about their success at this year’s at the US Open?
“What I learned about myself is that, in these moments, I shouldn’t put so much pressure in these matches, because when you’re playing these tournaments, the pressure is always on,” Gauff said. “They’re so intense and you always want to win. I just learned how to cope with that better the more I have reached this level.”
In contrast, Shelton chalks up much of his US Open performance to fitness: “I think I've definitely made some strides physically being out on tour a full year and playing a lot of matches and just being on the court more, working hard in the gym.” But he also admits, “I think the mental has improved more than the physical.”
It's not just their youth that makes 19-year-old Gauff and 20-year-old Shelton such exciting stories at this year’s US Open. Both are Americans, African-Americans too, and both hail from Florida. Both play an aggressive, ball-striking brand of tennis that is an absolute thrill to behold. Fans are loving it.
The past two magazine covers of Florida Tennis have featured Gauff (May-June issue) and Shelton (July-August issue). These two stars have already made Florida tennis fans proud prior to the US Open. As the semifinals approach and the courts heat up, the Florida duo is sure to bring some sizzle to Flushing Meadows.
Written by Florida Tennis' Executive Editor and Publisher Matt Pressman with photos and commentary from Florida tennis contributor Todd Pechter. Top photo: Awesome Americans pack Arthur Ashe — in a quarterfinal round featured night match, the stadium was packed to cheer on the American hopefuls. Photo by Todd Pechter for Florida Tennis.