Top coach analyses what makes ‘very unusual’ Ben Shelton serve special

Ewan West
Ben Shelton in action at the 2023 US Open
Ben Shelton serves at the 2023 US Open

Patrick Mouratoglou has broken down the technique Ben Shelton uses on his “very unusual” serve and assessed what makes it such a potent weapon. 

The renowned coach and analyst believes that the 21-year-old star will “for sure” appear in the “last stages” of Grand Slam tournaments in the future.

Shelton has already achieved two impressive results at Grand Slams despite only making five main draw appearances in majors in his young career so far.

The world No 19 made a surprise run to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in January in just his second major event, having made his debut at the 2022 US Open.

The American then struggled on tour following his Melbourne showing and was unable to win back-to-back matches at any ATP tournament until the US Open last month.

At Flushing Meadows, Shelton advanced to the semi-finals following wins over top-15 ranked compatriots Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe in the last 16 and quarter-finals respectively. His superb and unexpected run was stopped by world No 1 and eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the last four.

Shelton possesses many impressive attributes, but his devastating serve has stood out as his key weapon during his strong recent run. The 21-year-old fired a 149mph ace during the US Open – the fastest serve of the tournament.

In a video posted on his Instagram account, Mouratoglou dissected Shelton’s service technique and why it is both unorthodox and effective.

“First serve at almost 240kmph – you’ve seen that at the US Open with Ben Shelton. But Ben’s serve is more than only speed. Let’s look at his technique,” said the Frenchman.

“First, he’s lefty – his slice moves the other way compared to what the players are used to. Second, his motion is very compact. He’s lifting his elbow straight away at the level of his shoulders. So extremely simple.

“Now, what is unusual is his loading. Look at how early he bends his legs and look at how much he bends them. He doesn’t stay too long on his legs bent, which is great, because when you are too long on your legs bent, [it is] very difficult to push up. His trophy position is also very unusual. In that position, his dominant arm is very low.

“Now look at how long he stays in the air. He hits the ball before starting to fall back down to the court. He jumps high, [and lands] around 30cm inside [the baseline], which is ideal. Because when players end up too far inside the court, they are in a vulnerable position on the second shot.

“Despite being very unusual, Ben’s serve is huge and all his game is big. So we’ll see him in the future for sure in the last stages of the Grand Slams.”

Shelton has backed up his US Open breakthrough – firstly by playing a starring role in Team World’s dominant Laver Cup victory last month.

The world No 19 then reached the last eight of the Shanghai Masters last week, defeating in-form world No 4 Jannik Sinner in a final set tiebreak in the last 16.

The American has also progressed to the quarter-finals of the Japan Open in Tokyo this week. He will face Paul on Friday in a rematch of the pair’s US Open clash.

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