Ben Shelton has been one of the surprise performers at the 2022 Cincinnati Open. Having entered the tournament as a wildcard, he has put up strong performances to reach the third round following victories over the likes of Lorenzo Sonego and Casper Ruud.
In his ATP Masters 1000 debut at the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday, Shelton thrilled the home crowd at Porsche Court by emerging victorious from a three-setter against Italian Sonego in two hours and 52 minutes. He continued his dream run on Wednesday with a dominant 6-3, 6-3 victory over fifth seed Ruud.
Interestingly, Shelton wasn't sure if he'd even be able to compete in Cincinnati after he reached the Chicago Men's Challenger final last week, which created a conflict. However, he received a wild card for the main draw, thus giving him breathing space between the two events.
Ranked World No. 550 in May, the American teenager has moved up the ladder very quickly to be 229th in the ATP rankings right now. On that note, here is everything you need to know about Ben Shelton:
Who is Ben Shelton?
Ben Shelton was an unknown name on the ATP tour as recently as this summer. Prior to that, he had zero experience at the tour level. He is currently a student at the University of Florida, where he is pursuing a degree in finance and has just finished his sophomore year. His father Bryan Shelton, a former ATP player whose highest rank was No. 55, doubles up as his coach while also serving as the men’s head coach at the university.
The World No. 229 scored his first ATP win in Atlanta earlier this year in his very first ATP event, where he bowed out with a third-set tie-break loss to John Isner in the second round. Two weeks before his tour-level debut, he made his first ATP Challenger Tour final in Rome. He has reached two ATP Challenger tour finals and two semifinals to date in his budding career.
Isner was full of praise for Shelton following their clash in Atlanta, hailing him as "an incredible talent" who would become hard to beat in the coming days.
“He’s an incredible talent. I watched him play a-year-and-a-half ago in college and saw how athletic and talented he is. I’m going to be a big fan of his in the future. Truthfully, I don’t see myself beating him anytime in the future. I hope I don’t have to play him again,” Isner said after their contest.
Shelton has shown his potential on the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) circuit, winning the title-clinching match for the University of Florida at the 2021 NCAA Championships. He also claimed the singles title at the 2022 individual championships in May.
The 19-year-old has been one of the strongest college players, with a 37-5 win-loss record in singles last season. He also won the 2016 USTA Junior Tennis National Championship doubles title and was named the 2022 ITA National Player of the Year. This year, he has earned $29,485 in prize money and $71,882 overall - singles and doubles combined.
Armed with a fantastic serve, Shelton, who is 6’4” tall, will also be in action at the US Open later this month after receiving a wildcard entry into the main draw of the New York Major.
Ben Shelton takes on Cameron Norrie for a place in the Cincinnati Masters quarterfinals
Ben Shelton dominated fifth seed Casper Rudd on Wednesday, winning his second-round contest 6-3, 6-3 to reach the third round of the Masters 1000 event. He needed just an hour and eight minutes to beat the Norwegian and secure his first top-5 win and only his second Masters 1000 victory.
With that victory, Shelton, who was born in 2002, became the youngest American player to register a win against a top-5 opponent since Taylor Dent (vs Magnus Norman in Chennai 2001) and Andy Roddick (vs Gustavo Kuerten in Canada 2001).
Up next for the American is Cameron Norrie, another NCAA player. Speaking after his victory over Andy Murray in the second round today, Norrie said he is looking forward to the clash, especially Shelton's big serve and forehand.
“I want to see Ben play. I’ve heard a lot about his play – big serve, big forehand,” Norrie, who was a three-time All American at the Texas Christian University, said.