Abdullah Shelbayh created history on Tuesday by becoming the first-ever player from Jordan to win a main-draw match on the ATP Tour.
Jordanian teenager Shelbayh achieved the feat at the ATP250 event in Banja Luka, where World No.1 Novak Djokovic is the top seed, with a 6-1, 7-5 victory over Sweden’s Elia Ymer in the first-round match between two qualifiers.
Shelbayh, ranked 267th in the latest ATP Rankings, dominated the 29-minute first set against Ymer.
However, Ymer, ranked 128 places above his Jordanian opponent, took a 5-1 lead in the second and the match seemed to be headed towards a decider. But Shelbayh reeled off six games in a row to clinch the second set and finish the match in an hour and 31 minutes.
“This one feels special because it’s not a wild card, I qualified for it and had to win a couple matches before winning this one,” Shelbayh told atptour.com after his win over Ymer while adding, “It means a lot. With all the things that happened, not expecting to play this tournament. The last second decision, qualifying, and then today a tough match against Ymer. Today, I felt a little extra nerves.”
Left-handed Shelbayh began training at the Rafa Nadal Academy at the age of 14 and graduated in 2021. He played one year of college tennis for University of Florida before turning pro in 2022.
He came into the limelight during a ATP Challenger Tour event in Manama in February. In only his tournament at that level, the 19-year-old became the first Jordanian and the youngest Arab to reach a Challenger final where he went down to Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis.
In the same month, he became the first player from his nation to play a Tour-level match when he made his main draw debut as a wildcard at the ATP250 event in Doha. Shelbayh lost 3-6, 6-3, 4-6 to Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon in the opening round.
In Banja Luka, Shelbayh got into the qualifying round as an alternate and beat Hungary’s Fabian Marozsan 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 before defeating Slovakia’s Lukas Klein 6-4, 6-4 to book his place in the main draw.
In the second round, Shelbayh will be up against World No.33 Miomir Kecmanovic.
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