Who is Ben Shelton? Inside story on the US Open hero breaking service speed records
Ben Shelton’s dream US Open run continued as he beat Tommy Paul to seal a place in the quarter-finals for the first time in his career – and he continues to ramp up his service speeds as he eyes up more glory in New York.
Shelton started 2023 with a breakthrough run to the last eight of the Australian Open, where he was beaten by fellow American Tommy Paul.
Now he has avenged that defeat with a 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win against Paul in front of an ecstatic home crowd, with emotions rising to the surface as he spoke to fans on court.
“Being at home in front of an American crowd, I’ve felt the love all week,” said 20-year-old Shelton.
“We had a great battle, the crowd were split, but thank you for coming out. Unbelievable atmosphere.
“It’s hard to believe I’m playing on Arthur Ashe right now. It’s hard to believe. God does wonders.”
The victory means Shelton will make another leap in the ATP rankings, as he will break into the top 30 for the first time after his run in New York.
Shelton is now at No 27 in the provisional ranking that will be confirmed after the US Open and he will break into the top 20 if he can win his quarter-final match.
This latest win also featured more of his big serving brilliance, with Shelton beating his record of 147mph in the previous round as he hit two serves at 149mph in his win against Paul.
“I think straight adrenaline. Any other atmosphere I couldn’t get it done, I think my arm would fall off,” added Shelton.
Reaching a second Grand Slam quarter-final in 2023 is a fine achievement for Shelton, who comes from a family steeped in tennis.
Ben’s father Bryan was a professional player who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 1994 and reached a career-high ranking of No 55 in singles.
His son has already eclipsed that record at the age of 20, with Bryan now full-time travelling coach with Ben.
“Thankful that I have another opportunity that’s really exciting that’s about to get started,” Bryan told ATPTour.com when it was confirmed he would be Ben’s travelling coach back in June.
“I feel like a little bit of a kid again. At this stage in life, to be able to start something new and fresh and exciting is incredible.
“So I think that those are the things that are probably pouring out of me right now. Just gratitude and excitement.
“I think in his mind, he’s always thought that ultimately, we’d be able to do this together.
“We started together on the court and I think we’ve kind of built that coach-player relationship through the years as we continue to build our own relationship as father-son. And those two kind of went side by side along the way.
“I always said, I had to put one hat on and take the other hat off, and then kind of understanding when to do both is a little bit tricky because you hear about these stories with mother and daughter, father and son, mother and son, these stories that end up not being great stories.
“And so, my wife, Lisa, and I, we’ve really tried to have a balance with our kids and understand that they’re people first before they’re players.
“I think that along the way, I’ve put my coach hat on and to be able to do both still and for him to want me to come out there with him and help him in this area and share these experiences together, I think that speaks to the love that we have for one another and also the level of respect that we have for one another.”
Bryan missed his son’s breakthrough moment at the Australian Open in January, but he will be with him on every step of the way from this point forward.
Shelton’s big-serving dream will take some stopping and next, he will face Frances Tiafoe, guaranteeing an American man in the semi-finals.
Tiafoe beat Australian wild card Rinky Hijikata in straight sets, 6-4 6-1 6-4.
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