Shelton Celebrates 21st Birthday In Shanghai

  • Posted: Oct 09, 2023

Shelton Celebrates 21st Birthday In Shanghai

American faces Sinner on Tuesday for Shanghai QF place

Ben Shelton celebrated his birthday early at the Rolex Shanghai Masters with a pair of wins at the hard-court event. On Monday, the American’s 21st birthday, Shelton marked the occasion with a cake, sharing the moment with his father and coach, Bryan Shelton.

The American has plenty of reason to celebrate, given his rapid rise on the ATP Tour. Before the World No. 20 takes on Jannik Sinner on Tuesday in Shanghai, highlights five milestones that have fuelled Shelton’s star power.

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Shelton Stuns Ruud In Cincinnati, Turns Pro Soon After
After making his tour-level debut in 2022 with a win in his native Atlanta, Shelton upset then-World No. 5 Casper Ruud in the Cincinnati second round. He did not face a break point against the Norwegian, and the third-round run in his first ATP Masters 1000 proved the American belonged at the top level. Soon after the event, Shelton announced he would forgo the final two years of his NCAA eligibility to turn pro.

New Horizons: Australian Open QFs
Shelton closed the 2022 season by winning three straight ATP Challenger Tour titles on U.S. soil to enter the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, then left the country for the first time for the 2023 Australian swing. Playing in his second major at the Australian Open (he earned a wild card into the 2022 US Open as an American NCAA singles champion), Shelton announced himself as one of the hottest rising stars in the game with a stunning quarter-final run that included five-set wins against Zhang Zhizhen and J.J. Wolf.

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Ben Shelton cuts his birthday cake as his father and coach, Bryan Shelton, watches on. Photo courtesy of Rolex Shanghai Masters/Frey TPN.

Serving Notice
While Shelton struggled to match the heights of his Melbourne run in the months to follow, he continued to develop his game — and his serve. Shelton routinely passed the 130-mph mark on his deliveries throughout the season and topped out at 149 mph at the 2023 US Open. Prior to his second appearance at his home major, Shelton won his very first clay-court match in Estoril (d. Lestienne), earned his first grass-court victory at The Queen’s Club (d. Wolf) and made a winning Wimbledon debut (d. Daniel).

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Home Hero: US Open SFs
Just like in Melbourne, Shelton once again brought his best tennis to a hard-court Grand Slam in New York. The unseeded star lit up Arthur Ashe Stadium with back-to-back wins in all-American matches against Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe, then put on a show in a valiant three-set defeat to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals. Shelton’s run lifted him to a career-high Pepperstone ATP Ranking of No. 19.

Laver Cup King
Just like in his college days at the University of Florida, Shelton thrived in the team atmosphere at Laver Cup. The American debutant led captain John McEnroe’s Team World to victory with three match wins, including the clinching doubles victory alongside Tiafoe.

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