The next stop on Ben Shelton’s first trip outside the United States will be a stop in the Australian Open quarterfinals.
The 20-year-old NCAA champion from the University of Florida extended his stay in his debut at Melbourne Park by pulling out a 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-2 victory over J.J. Wolf in an all-American matchup in John Cain Arena on Monday.
Shelton is playing in only his second Grand Slam tournament — and using his passport for the first time — and he credited himself with being “energetic” and “courageous” across the more than three-and-a-half hours he and Wolf traded big cuts and momentum shifts on a day where the temperature rose above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius).
Now the 89th-ranked Shelton meets yet another unseeded American, 35th-ranked Tommy Paul, who eliminated No. 24 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 on Monday.
They join Sebastian Korda — his dad won the 1998 Australian Open — to give the US three men in the quarterfinals in Melbourne for the first time since 2000. Back then, the trio was Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and Chris Woodruff.
Shelton, Paul and Korda are all in the final eight at a major for the first time.
The left-handed Shelton comes equipped with a powerful serve that produced the fastest offering of the tournament so far, at 142 mph (228 kph) during his first-round victory, an instinct for defense and a competitive streak. Against Wolf, who played college tennis at Ohio State and also was playing in the main draw in Melbourne for the first time, Shelton only faced two break points and saved them both.
At times a bit quiet in the early going under the sun, Shelton grew more and more loud and animated as the shadows crept across the blue playing surface and the scoreline increased the intensity.
He would throw uppercuts and yell, “Come on!” or “Let’s go!” after winning points, and when the close contest came to a close, Shelton jutted out his tongue and flexed his arms.
“Definitely a grueling match,” said Shelton, whose father, Bryan, reached a career-best ranking of No. 55 as a pro and now coaches the Florida men’s team.
- From Satwik-Chirag’s highs to Sindhu’s lows, Asian Games 2023 a test for India’s badminton faithful
- ICC Men’s T20 World Cup venues confirmed: Dallas, Florida and New York get the nod
- Mohammed Siraj back at No.1 in ICC Men’s ODI bowling rankings
- Asian Games 2023 Live Score and Updates, September 20: Indians in action in rowing, pentathlon; Volleyball men’s team faces South Korea
- Manchester United vs Bayern Munich - a trip down memory lane of the historic 1999 Champions League final