Sunday, February 5, 2023

With Shelton and Paul, USA have 3 in quarterfinals in Australia

MELBOURNE, Australia ( Associated Press) – In the run up to his first appearance at the Australian Open, Ben Shelton’s worries were less about tennis and more about travel-related needs.

It was the first time he had left the United States. I used passport for the first time. Jet lag. Time Change. Meal. Driving on the left side of the road. And also join for online classes as this week he is starting a new semester for his Business Administration degree.

Shelton is barely 20 years old. Just a year ago, he was studying and competing at the University of Florida, where his father, a professional tennis player, directs the men’s team.

On Monday, Shelton defeated compatriot JJ Wolff 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-2 at John Cain Arena and unexpectedly reached the quarterfinals of a Grand I entered. Slam – one of three American men to reach that stage at Melbourne Park, the nation’s biggest since 2000.

“It was quite surprising. I got on the plane with no expectations,” Shelton, the 2022 college singles champion, said of his performance in the second major he played in his early professional career. Having that has helped me a little bit, the feeling that I have to perform, but just going out there to play and showing what I am.”

Shelton, ranked No. 89 in the ATP rankings, will face another unseeded American in the quarterfinals. It is Tommy Paul, 35th in the ATP rankings, who ousted Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut (24th seed) 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.

It will be the first major quarterfinal meeting between two Americans since 2007, when Andy Roddick defeated Mardy Fish in Melbourne. The title won by Roddick at the US Open 20 years ago stands as the last by an American in the singles arm of a major.

“It’s everybody’s dream when you start tennis to play big matches at the Slams,” said the 25-year-old Paul. “I am very excited to go out and play on Friday. There’s bound to be an American in the semifinals, and that excites me as well.

Sebastian Korda completes the trio, who will play his quarterfinal match against Russia’s Karen Khachanov (seeded 18th) on Tuesday. Like Shelton and Paul, Korda never made it to a major. And like Shelton, Korda’s father was a tennis player: Petr Korda won the Australian Open in 1998.

These examples are widely known by Novak Djokovic, with 21 Grand Slam titles to his name. The Serb looked unstoppable in a 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 win over Australian Alex de Minaur (seeded 22nd) and said the hamstring in his left leg was no longer bothering him.

“Today I didn’t feel anything,” said Djokovic, who said he was taking “too many” anti-inflammatory drugs.

Djokovic, who missed the tournament last year because he had not been vaccinated against COVID-19, edged closer to his 10th title in Melbourne without facing a break point.

He will now play against Andrey Rublev (seeded fifth seed). The Russian recovered from back-to-back losses to beat Dane Holger Roon (9th) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (11-9).

In the women’s quarter-finals, Poland’s Magda Linett – her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the age of 31 – will face Croatia’s Donna Vekic against Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic and Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Earlier on Monday, fifth seed Sabalenka defeated Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic 7-5, 6-2. A double fault from Bencic saw her lose the first set, with Sabalenka in control from then on.

Top seed Inga Swiatek and number two Ons Jabur were eliminated, making American Jessica Pegula (seeded third) the highest-ranked woman in the tournament’s top eight.

“I’m very happy with today’s win,” said Sabalenka. “He (Bencic) is an incredible player. He played very well. I am very happy with my level today.”

Sabalenka indicated that she worked hard to control her emotions during matches.

“It’s taken me a while to understand that negative emotions aren’t going to help me on the court,” she said. “You just have to stay strong and believe, no matter what.”

Linet defeated French fourth seed Caroline Garcia 7-6(3), 6-4; Pliskova (30th) defeated China’s Zhang Shuai (23rd) 6-0, 6-4; Vekic defeated Linda Fruhvirtova of Czech Republic 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.

Nation World News Desk
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