Shelton Blames 'Muddy Balls' For Aggravating Shoulder Injury In French Open Exit

Shelton Blames 'Muddy Balls' For Aggravating Shoulder Injury In French Open Exit

by Nurein Ahmed

Ben Shelton was knocked out of the 2024 Roland Garros in the third round stage and has outlined what went wrong.

Competing at the French Open for the second time in his career, Shelton gave a better account of himself, scoring an elusive first-round win over Hugo Gaston and then benefitting from a retirement from Japan's Kei Nishikori to reach the third round.

There, the American lefty met an in-form Felix Auger-Aliassime, who had won 11 matches on clay this season. The Canadian proved a step ahead of the 21-year-old, who could not adapt to the playing conditions as rain caused the suspension of their match on Friday while trailing 4-5 in the opening set.

On resumption, the match was scheduled for completion on Court Suzanne Lenglen, and Auger-Aliassime dropped three games for the remainder of the contest to reach the second week.

Shelton can still be proud of his efforts after a fine clay-court swing yielded a maiden title on the surface in Houston in early April. But he felt that his performance was largely affected by a shoulder injury aggravated by playing in cold conditions and with "muddy balls."

"I just feel like a pitcher who’s thrown too many pitches, way over his pitch count. A lot of rain delays. A lot of on and off. Everybody’s dealing with it, not just me."

Shelton as quoted on the Associated Press

"Playing a set last night with soaked balls, muddy balls, it kind of just, I guess, aggravated my shoulder a little bit. But I went out there and did what I could today and gave 100%."

While some of Shelton's higher-ranked peers will return to Paris to compete at the Olympic Games, the Florida Gators alumni has bid Roland Garros farewell for the next 12 months because he opted out from playing on the dirt in July and will instead focus on the North American hard-court swing.


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