Tennis legend makes big Ben Shelton prediction as American stars at Laver Cup

Ben Shelton Laver Cup

Tennis legend Rod Laver has hailed the game of rising star Ben Shelton and predicted that the 20-year-old American will win a Grand Slam title.

Laver described Shelton as “the new player on the tour” and declared that he possesses “one of the biggest serves” and “doesn’t make many mistakes.”

The world No 19 played a starring role for Team World on his Laver Cup debut as they routed Team Europe 13-2 to win the 2023 edition of the team event and retain their title at Rogers Arena in Vancouver last week.

Shelton defeated Europe’s Arthur Fils 7-6(4), 6-1 in his only singles match on the opening day of the event, while also winning both of his doubles matches in straight sets.

The American partnered Felix Auger-Aliassime in a 7-5, 6-4 win over Hubert Hurkacz and Gael Monfils on Day 2, before a 7-6(4), 7-6(5) victory alongside Frances Tiafoe against Hurkacz and Andrey Rublev sealed Team World’s triumph on Day 3.

Shelton made a superb run to the semi-finals of the US Open earlier this month, losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in straight sets. He also reached the last eight of the Australian Open in January, but did not win back-to-back tour matches again until the New York major.

Captain John McEnroe’s Team World won the exhibition competition for the first time since its introduction in 2017 in London last year, after Europe triumphed in the first four editions.

On the final day of the 2023 Laver Cup, 11-time Grand Slam singles champion Laver – after whom the event is named – answered questions from tennis fans on Twitter. The Australian named Shelton when asked who his favourite young players in tennis were, and explained why he is an admirer of the American.

“Shelton is the new player on the tour. We’re going to see him winning a Slam, he’s got one of the biggest serves, a big left-hander, he doesn’t make many mistakes. He sees an opening and he goes for it,” said the 85-year-old.

The tennis great also picked another American Team World star as his dark horse for the 2024 Australian Open.

“Any of the top 10 could come out and win it, but we could see a surprise finalist such as Tiafoe. He’s certainly capable,” said Laver.

Laver is the only man to win the Calendar Grand Slam in the Open Era, having achieved the remarkable feat in 1969 – the first full year of Open tennis. He is also the only player in tennis history to have won all four majors in a season twice, having first done it as an amateur in 1962.

Shelton discussed his first Laver Cup experience in a post-event interview: “It’s been crazy for me and I’ve enjoyed being in a team environment.

“I’ve enjoyed playing for Johnny Mac. Team World really brought the energy this week. It’s easy for me to play when I’m amped up and hyped and the bench has done a great job of hyping me up all week.

“I hope I’ve done a good job of hyping them up too. Playing with Frances speaks for itself, easiest guy to play with, most fun guy to be on court with.”

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