US Open 2023: Ben Shelton, the ‘quarterback’ who serves at 240 km/h | Tennis | Sports


Tennis in the United States has reason to smile. There is Coco Gauff, blocking the way for the Danish Caroline Wozniacki – back after announcing her retirement three years ago – and placing herself just three steps away from that trophy that will definitely catapult her, taking into account that she is the great hope of her country. in the midst of the masculine dryness and the emptiness of the era postSerena. She is already in the quarterfinals of this US Open and behind her back, in search of the ticket, she is followed by three other compatriots: the unexpected Payton Stearns and the consecrated Madison Keys and Jessica Pegula; one of the latter two has a guaranteed pass. But the story does not stop there. Winners also parade Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz –Novak Djokovic’s rival, firm against Borna Gojo (6-2, 7-5 and 6-4)– and the young Ben Shelton, who adds facts to the good manners that he hinted at. Pay attention to the latter.

The victory this Sunday against his compatriot Tommy Paul (6-4, 6-34-6 and 6-4) automatically makes him the youngest American (20 years old) to land in the quarterfinals of the great New York since Andy Roddick did it in 2002, at the same age. At the same time, Shelton is the earliest American to gain access to said round twice in the same season since Roddick also achieved it in 2003, a date for nostalgia. Since then, twenty years now, no male representative has been able to raise a majorso the eyes (and the pleas) are now directed to the umpteenth product from the university factory. In addition to the chronological parallelism, one and the other share another no less important aspect: the two burst the ball.

“I had never played against anyone who hit the ball as hard as him.” Whoever describes knows what he is talking about. Carlos Alcaraz is probably the player with the most powerful shot on the circuit. However, Shelton is not far away. In fact, the data recorded in this edition shows that no one serves as strong as him. During the duel against Paul he signed a service that caressed 240 kilometers per hour (239.7). He still has a way to go to reach the historical record established by John Isner (253), but his rifle and his effervescence excite a country that since the glorious era of Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras came to an end, and then Roddick said goodbye, has suffered one disappointment after another. Too many promises and some feints, but little real fire.

“I’m happy to be among the top eight in the tournament,” he says. However, it is not the first time that it has been noticed in a big one. At the beginning of the year, in Australia, he already managed to land in the quarterfinals and it was precisely Paul who cut him off. It was his first trip as a professional. “I dreamed of this since I was a child. In reality, he simply dreamed of being able to play here, at the US Open, but to have come this far is great, ”continues the American, with a considerable plant (1.93 and 88 kilos), left-handed and stocky. Like Alcaraz, these days he competes with a sleeveless shirt and, in tune with the Murcian, he attacks the ball without complexes.

At the moment, Shelton (47th in the world) has dispatched Pedro Cachín, Dominic Thiem, Aslan Karatsev and ultimately Paul. It is his turn now to measure himself against Tiafoe, installed on the tenth step of the ranking. A rain of stones is expected. In the case of the first, power comes from childhood and mechanics. When he was little, his real obsession was not tennis, but American football, so he spent hours rehearsing long shots. “It’s the best weapon he has,” conceded his father –a tennis professor at the university– in an interview with the ATP; “The fact that he rehearsed so much is the main reason that he hits him like that now, with such force.”

Born in Atlanta, Shelton leads the statistics of aces of the tournament –with 62, three more than the already eliminated Isner– and admires Roger Federer above all. His father Bryan guides him from the bench and the country’s tennis watches his takeoff with as much optimism as caution. He looks good, but there is no telling where he will end up. Neither Fritz nor Tiafoe have finished breaking up, Paul has had a hard time waking up and Sebastian Korda shrinks on the big stages; the rest, frustrated promises like Brandon Naskashima, Michael Mmoh or JJ Wolf; Christopher Eubanks surprised at Wimbledon and nothing else, and Mackenzie McDonald or Marcos Giron have passed the rice. He is, therefore, the last designated. A quarterback on a tennis court.



Unlike two nights ago, when he had to come back from two sets down against his compatriot Laslo Djere, Novak Djokovic found balm this Sunday in the Croatian Borna Gojo. The Serbian prevailed smoothly (6-2, 7-5 and 6-4) and reached the quarterfinals, in which he will face a demanding test against local Taylor Fritz (7-6 (2), 6-4 and 6-4 to Dominic Stricker).

The news of the night, however, starred the number one in the world. Iga Swiatek, champion a year ago, lost against Jelena Ostapenko (3-6, 6-3 and 6-1, in 1h 48m) and at the same time the world throne that she had defended since April 4, 2022. After 75 weeks in At the top, the Pole gives way to the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, who this Monday faces Daria Kasatkina.

Sabalenka won the Australian Open at the beginning of the season and reached the top of the WTA for the first time. She will do it on the 11th, when the list is updated after the competition.

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