Ben Shelton Becomes Second-Youngest First-Time ATP Tour Champion In 2023

Ben Shelton Becomes Second-Youngest First-Time ATP Tour Champion In 2023

by Nurein Ahmed

Ben Shelton won his first ATP Tour title at the 2023 Japan Open with a rousing performance in the final.

The 21-year-old American blasted past Russia's Aslan Karatsev 7-5, 6-1 in 84 minutes on Sunday. Shelton had faced a treacherous path to the final, needing a trio of three-set matches, including a comeback from the brink against Marcos Giron in the semi-final.

Remarkably, Shelton's easiest match of the week was the final, in which his defence-shredding serve and powerful forehand overwhelmed Karatsev. The 30-year-old had experience on his side, in addition to high levels of energy after spending less court time than his opponent.

But that didn't matter in the end as Shelton ran roughshod over the World No. 50, converting four of six break points. Before the final, Karatsev had not dropped a set nor relinquished more than one service game during the week.

But Sunday's final was the latest demonstration of Shelton's burgeoning game and his march towards the upper echelons of the sport. With his title win in Tokyo, which will live long in his memory bank, he became the sixth first-time ATP titlist this season.

And of relevance, Shelton is the second-youngest in the list, behind only 19-year-old Arthur Fils of France, who will have the chance to add to his title collection in the Antwerp final later on Sunday.

Shelton's first full season on the ATP Tour has been the stuff of dreams. He played in his first Grand Slam tournament outside U.S. territory and reached a quarterfinal at the Australian Open. There was nothing particularly special that happened immediately after that, except learning his trade.

But he was able to rediscover his winning touch at the US Open, the Grand Slam tournament that gave Shelton self-belief that he belonged at this level. Shelton reached the semifinals and broke the world's Top 20.

The emergence of Shelton has given the United States hope of reclaiming the throne as the dominant nation in men's tennis, and he is set a for Top 15 debut on Monday.


You may also like