Of the 16 players who reached the last 16 Australian Open One slipped up, which until five months ago was completely unknown in the ATP circuit: ben shelton, The 20-year-old American was the great revelation of last season’s final stage – when he reached the third round of the Cincinnati Masters 1000, only his second tournament at the highest level – and builds on his great moment in Melbourne, where this Sunday at midnight the Argentine In, he will seek a place in the quarterfinals against his compatriot JJ Wolf,
So far, a story that doesn’t seem too different from so many players who manage to break into the tour. However, the Atlanta-born player started his career with a bang and with aplomb. He made the first—and for many most difficult—big move, the jump into the top 100, without playing a single tournament. America. The tour he is disputing in the maritime land was meant to be his first trip to compete outside his home country.
At the end of May 2022, Shelton was ending his second year as a student University of Florida won the singles title NCAA, University League of the United States. Till then, he had played only a few tournaments in India itf world tour (former futures) Y challengers -all on North American soil- and was outside the top 500 of the rankings (he added his first ATP point in June 2021). So, he decided to take advantage of the summer vacations to gain momentum by competing with the best. And it didn’t take long to start breaking down barriers.
In early July, he played in his first Challenger final in Rome, Georgia. Weeks later, ranked No. 281, he entered the ATP 250 in Atlanta as a wild card, making his full debut at that level, and reached the second round. In late August, he received an invitation CincinnatiIn which he reached the last-16 with a stunning 6-3, 6-3 win against the Norwegian. casper rood, at the time, number five in the world. although he clearly lost the latter Cameron NorrieBye with an unprecedented mark: He was the first NCAA champion to win a game in the Masters 1000, the same season in which he won his varsity crown.
Later, when he had already announced his decision to leave college tennis and start his professional stage, he played his first Grand Slam draw in New York, also due to a wild card, and fell in the first round. . And they ended the season with three consecutive Challengers titles Charlottesville (Virginia), Knoxville (Tennessee) Y Field (Illinois). That final surrender allowed him to break into the top 100 of the rankings for the first time: on 21 November, he appeared on stage 97. everything without leaving the field Yankee And without setting foot on soil or grass.
That achievement shows the kind of journey American players have to travel to reach the elite and the example faced by Argentina. The number of tournaments across all categories hosted by the United States each season makes it possible for its tennis players to earn points and achieve achievements, such as breaking into the top 100, no light blue and white rackets—or Development of that game less than other countries – he could get by playing single tournament in his home country.
john manuel of courseFor example, one of the great talents of the new Albiceleste generation already has stamps for Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tunisia, Sweden, Hungary, Finland, Italy, United States, Austria, France and many others in his passport. were. In addition to several exploits in South America, when he broke into the top 100 for the first time, in October 2021, at the age of 19 and months after winning his first, and so far only, ATP in Cordoba.
“I wasn’t a great player growing up as a teen. I was more focused on other sports. I didn’t have the same level as other 13, 14, or 15-year-olds, even later in the juniors. My parents did. “Don’t want to spend money on country travel abroad and play other tournaments. I didn’t have much room to skip classes in my studies, the ITF calendar is very similar to the ATP”, Shelton explained a few days ago.
Shelton’s quick rise, however, is not only due to its “geographical ease” to compete. The American owns an innate talent inherited from his father BrianNewton, who is ranked 55th in the ATP rankings, is a two-time champion and is today his coach. Although during his time in Melbourne, Benn admitted that for a long time he did not consider pursuing a career with the racket.
“The first twelve or thirteen years of my life, I swore I would never play tennis again. It was my father’s talk. But I fell in love with the game,” he said with a big smile, holding the yellow ball. Before hitting it off, tried basketball and American football.
Joe is left-handed like Nadal but Federer is a great idol, he has an explosive serve, a forehand that hurts a lot down the court and a very good two-handed backhand. But his best qualities are his maturity and mindset to persevere and stay focused in the most difficult of circumstances and to understand that, in his career, he must take it step by step, two strengths that his father possesses. there was a lot.
He remarked more than once, “He is teaching me that it is not a question of quick transitions to the circuit but of a longer process.” “It’s long-term thinking, not immediate results.”
your first trip abroad
After heading into 2022 and closing the rankings at No. 96, Shelton decided to pack his bags and go on tour for the first time. Due to his high confidence and motivated to keep growing, he landed in Oceania.
He started his 2023 with a loss in ATP 250 qualifying Adelaide against the australian james duckworth, then they were invited to play aucklandwhere he defeated in his debut match Sebastian Baez (41st) and bye in the second round against the Frenchman Quentin Hellis, That performance allowed him to reach his best ever ranking, No. 89.
And in Melbourne, it turned out to be one of the first Grand Slam big surprises of the year. In his second appearance in the “Big Man” main draw, he started with a five-set victory, 4–6, 6–3, 6–2, 2–6 and 7–6 (10–4), over Chinese Against zhizhen zhang, 96°. They ousted Chile in the second round nicholas jerryComing from Quali, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-3) and 7-5. and ended the local Alexey PopyrinOrganization guest, 6–3, 7–6 (7–4) and 6–4 to reach the round of 16.
“I feel great. I have to be twitching myself to believe what I’m feeling. I really enjoyed it and I’m glad to move on. It was the first game against Popyrin in which I said ‘Wow, everything is working, I feel good about my tennis and I’m going great’, Certainly six or four months ago, neither would I have thought I would be here today,” he commented after that victory.
This Sunday at midnight, Shelton will try to go one step further in Australia. Whatever the outcome, the “big” ocean is already a success for him and he has made it clear that beyond the perks of being an American that started his career, he now wants to shine his own light. ready for. and on courts anywhere in the world.