This kid is going places…Ben Shelton Wins First Big Title at the ATP 500 Japan Open after defeating Aslan Karatsev in the final.
Ben Shelton Wins First Big Title
Last week, Ben Shelton claimed the biggest title of his career, winning the ATP 500 Japan Open. The young American defeated Aslan Karatsev in the final to take home his first ATP tour-level title.
This title caps off a sensational few months for Shelton.
In September, the American reached his first major semi-final at the US Open, in only his second ever main draw appearance at Flushing Meadows.
This is a mighty impressive result given his lack of tour experience. 2023 is only his second season on tour as a professional.
At the beginning of the year, he was ranked 96 in the world.
With his title victory this week, Shelton skyrockets up the rankings, sitting at a career high of 14.
Let’s delve deeper into this 21-year-old’s remarkable rise inside the world’s top 20.
Ben Shelton Biography
Ben Shelton was born on 9th October 2002 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA to Lisa Witsken Shelton and Bryan Shelton.
Both his parents are tennis players. His mum was a successful junior player while his father was a former professional, winning two ATP titles and reaching a career high of 55 in the ATP singles rankings.
Shelton began playing tennis at the age of 12 and soon started to train under the tuition of his father.
He continued to develop his game in the US, opting to compete in his home country rather than travelling internationally on the ITF world junior tour.
In 2020, while studying at the University of Florida, Shelton played for the Florida Gators tennis team.
In the following year, Shelton led the team to their first national title.
Shelton’s university tennis success continued into 2021 where he won the NCAA Singles Championship.
Given his impressive college tennis results, Shelton was awarded a wildcard for the 2022 ATP Cincinnati Masters event.
Taking full advantage of the opportunity, Shelton knocked out Lorenzo Sonego in the first round before upsetting the world number 5, Casper Ruud with the loss of just six games.
A one sided loss to Cameron Norrie in the third-round ended Shelton’s run, but the level of tennis the American produced convinced him it was time to turn pro.
In the second half of the 2022 season, Shelton began to compete on the ATP Challenger tour and reached his first final in July.
By the end of the year, Shelton had collected his fourth Challenger title and broken into the world’s top 100, sitting at 96.
Shelton’s rise into the world’s top 100 was incredibly fast, but what was arguably even more astonishing was that he still hadn’t completed outside of the US.
Entering his first full year as a professional in 2023, Shelton jetted off to Adelaide, Australia to compete in his first international tennis tournament.
A couple of tournaments later, Shelton found himself in the main draw of the Australian Open.
On his debut, the American powered his way through to the quarter-final, defeating
Zhang Zhizhen, Nicolas Jarry, Alexei Popyrin and J. J. Wolf.
Although Shelton narrowly lost to fellow American, Tommy Paul in four-tight sets, he rose to a career high of number 44 in the ATP rankings.
After a flying start to 2023, Shelton still had to find his feet on the gruelling ATP tour.
An inconsistent clay and grass-court season saw the American struggle for match wins and it took him until the end of the year at the 2023 US Open for him to win back-to-back matches on the tour.
Back playing on the more familiar hard-courts of his home country, the unseeded Shelton defeated former US Open champion Dominic Thiem, avenged his Australian Open loss to Tommy Paul, before knocking out 10th seed Frances Tiafoe to reach the semi-final.
A tough straight sets loss to Djokovic signalled the end of Shelton’s US Open campaign but at the same time signalled the birth of America’s new tennis star.
A Big Game
Shelton’s game is built around his lefty-serve. At this year’s US Open, the American hit one of the fastest ever serves on record, clocking at 149 mph.
Shelton has a very unorthodox but effective serving position. As he tosses the ball, he crouches down into a squat-like position. As he uncoils his body, all 1.93m of him jumps upwards to make contact with the ball before hammering it across the other side of the court.
He also possesses a ferocious forehand which he can create incredible spin off or flatten out and when the opportunity arrives, he likes to come to the net and is a competent volleyer.