Son of a great professional player… Who is Ben Shelton, Melbourne’s revelation?

To find traces of an American Grand Slam winner, one always has to go back to 2003 with Andy Roddick’s success at the US Open, a few months after André Agassi’s success in Australia. With Pete Sampras and Jim Courier as standard bearers alongside Steffi Graf’s husband, it’s hard to say the hunger for the nation’s tennis king at the turn of the 20th century will end anytime soon. But Team USA is currently shining in Melbourne, placing four and three representatives in the quarterfinals: Sebastian Korda, as well as Tommy Paul and Ben Shelton.

The latter is the least known, a powerful lefty who fell to mustachioed compatriot Jeffrey John Wolfe in the 8th round. Considering that the 20-year-old young giant (1.93 m, 88 kg) had never left his homeland until he discovered the southern lands. Not so for the holidays, as he tweeted on December 29. responding to a Portuguese journalist’s tweet. “I used my passport for the first time two days ago,” said the world No. 89, who dropped out of the Top 500 until last May (he will be No. 43 at worst next Monday).

The 2022 U.S. university tennis champion, who envisioned a future in U.S. soccer by the age of 12, is content to shine at home while studying finance, which still leaves more options than Andorra or even France. He toured the country’s courts with the Florida Gators under his father, Brian Shelton, who finished 55th on the ATP Tour in 1992 and 8th at Wimbledon two years later. . His mother, Lisa, also shone in the juniors, and the latter’s brother, Todd Witsken, was ranked 43rd in the world in singles and 4th in doubles before he died aged 34 in 1998, four years before the birth of (younger) ball-worthy son Ben.

Dad is good advice

The father was originally from his son’s home side, and when he was a teenager, he asked him to rub shoulders with foreign competition: “He replied, ‘Why go and play in another country when you’re not like that?’ the best here? “”, referred Shelton Jr. to the ATP site.

The main coup of his son until this fortnight in Melbourne was over Denmark’s Kasper Ruud (5th in the world), in the 2nd round of the Masters 1000 in Cincinnati last August, where he benefited from an invitation, followed by a new “wild card” at the US Open, only after passing in favor ( 1st round loss against Portugal’s Nuno Borges).

In November, the young American, who won three Challengers (division 2 of the circuit) in a row, admitted to suffering from jet lag in Adelaide (round 1 loss to local James Duckworth) and then Auckland (round 8 loss to Quentin Halys). ) before setting his course in Melbourne. Admittedly, his table was not the fiercest: the Chinese Zhang Zhizen started (he lost only in the super tie-break of the 5th set), then the Chilean Nicolas Jarry, the Australian Alexey Popyrin (both sent in three rounds) and, therefore, Wolf , is beaten after five sets and 3h51 games.

Financial education along with tennis

However, this formidable server impressed with his powerful game, which could not be compared to that of his idol, Roger Federer. Even if it is capable of several fantasies between two concrete blocks this intermediate lobe During his victory over Ruud in Cincinnati, it turned out well on social media …

In Australia, Shelton manages to thrill the public in an American style with a lot of ostentatious behavior that has little to do with the financial adviser job he was appointed to, if not for sports. The young player also continues to study remotely, as he told the ATP website in the evening before the start of the tournament, between two speeches about his desire to see koalas and kangaroos: “It’s really nice to have something outside of tennis. I can dive in or spend time with it, so I’m not focused on just one thing. »

Awesome server

If Popyrin’s prophecy comes true, evening classes will quickly take a backseat: “If he keeps playing like this, the guy is in the top 10 in six months, now he has dropped the Australian after losing in the quarters. Finalist in Melbourne. He hits the lines, averages 120 mph / hr has a fast second serve, there’s not much you can do to attack that second serve, and it’s even harder because he’s left-handed. »

The surprise of the fortnight was more reasonable on Eurosport: “My goals? Top 30 by the end of the year and participation in the Olympic Games next year. “At the Paris meet, Ben Shelton will certainly be exploring Europe and the French capital this spring at Roland Garros.

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