"We're going to see Ben Shelton win a Slam" - Rod Laver

Rod Laver heaped rich praise on Ben Shelton earlier on Sunday
Rod Laver heaped rich praise on Ben Shelton earlier on Sunday

Australian tennis legend Rod Laver showered rich plaudits on the fast-rising Ben Shelton on Sunday (September 24).

Shelton, who turned pro only last year, has had a steep upwards climb in the rankings in 2023. The American went on a giant-killing spree at the 2023 US Open and the 2023 Australian Open, reaching the semifinals and the quarterfinals at the respective tournaments.

With the help of the aforementioned results, the 20-year-old has risen to a career high ranking of World No. 19. He was also one of the players to beat at last week's Laver Cup, where he won all three of his matches (one singles, two doubles) without dropping a set.

Given his rapid progress, many fans and pundits have slowly come to believe in Ben Shelton's prospects of winning a Major in the near future. Rod Laver, who won 11 Major titles and eight Pro Majors in his heyday, is also amongst the American's staunch supporters, going by his post on X (formerly Twitter).

The Aussie was taking questions on his social media handle on Sunday (September 24). When asked by one of his followers to name his favourite young players at the moment, "Rocket" Rod Laver expressed his admiration for Ben Shelton's dynamic game. He said:

"Shelton is the new player on the tour. We're going to see him winning a Slam, he's got one of the biggest serves, a big left-hander, he doesn't make many mistakes."

The 85-year-old legend also had high praise for Shelton's mentality.

"He sees an opening and he goes for it," he added.

Ben Shelton is already the best Under-21 player after elites like Carlos Alcaraz and Holger Rune

Ben Shelton celebrates after a point at the 2023 US Open
Ben Shelton celebrates after a point at the 2023 US Open

Ben Shelton has enjoyed a respectable season in 2023, with an 17-21 win-loss record and a semifinal appearance at a Major tournament to boot. Although the American has often failed to win back-to-back matches at tournaments, he has had a real impact at the ones where he has gone deep.

By virtue of his run to the last four in New York, Shelton was able to make his debut in the top 20 of the ATP rankings. The American is one of three 20-year-old players to be ranked inside of the top 20, with only Carlos Alcaraz (2nd) and Holger Rune (4th) being ranked higher.

The 20-year-old will be looking to cap off his 2023 tour season on a high note. He is next scheduled to play in the ATP 500 tournament in Tokyo, which will begin on October 16.