Shelton Reaches His Maiden Tour-Level Clay-Court Semifinal At Houston Open

Shelton Reaches His Maiden Tour-Level Clay-Court Semifinal At Houston Open

by Zachary Wimer

Top seed Ben Shelton continued his 2024 Houston Open run with a really good showing against compatriot Brandon Nakashima.

Shelton doesn't have much experience on clay, but he's enjoying this week's stay at the Houston Open as the top seed. Being the number one seed doesn't phase him too much, as he's simply focused on his matches and doesn't pay much attention to seedings and draws.

He made a winning start and now faced a compatriot, Nakashima, for a spot in the semi-finals, and it was a proper battle. The serve reigns supreme at the ATP 250 event in Houston, and both players have a really good one.

Nakashima hasn't played at his level in recent months, but he looked really decent in this quarter-final match, winning a lot of points thanks to his really strong serve.

The opening set was very close because it was a battle, but Nakashima was really better at the start. He wasted multiple break points across several games, which came back to bite him quite a bit.

Shelton would eventually start to play much better and outplay his opponent to win the opening set 7-5. The difference in that first set was the fact that Shelton saved all seven break points, while his opponent didn't save one. That's how close it was, and that continued in the second set.

The second was pretty impressive from both, as neither really faced any issues on the serve. Both cruised through their games and by the time it was 4-4, no player faced a break point.

Ultimately, the set would get to the tie-break after Nakashima saved a couple of match points, and in the tie-break, it was a real marathon to the finish line, with both players refusing to give up.

Shelton won the match because he was able to find his best tennis in the most crucial moments and outplay his opponent when it mattered most, winning the match 7-5, 7-6(9) to reach his maiden Tour-level clay-court semi-final, after previously playing in the final four at the US Open, the Japan Open in Tokyo, the ASB Classic in Auckland, and the Dallas Open.


You may also like