Ben Shelton’s dream debut on the Australian Open retains getting higher. The #NextGenATP American superior to the fourth spherical on Saturday when he defeated dwelling favorite Alexei Popyrin 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-4.

“It feels nice,” Shelton mentioned. “I mentioned on the court docket that it is a pinch-me second. Unreal expertise on the market on the court docket in the present day with that Aussie crowd. It was a number of enjoyable to be on the market, and I am blissful to be shifting on.”

The 20-year-old saved all 4 break factors he confronted to turn into the fifth man to achieve the Spherical of 16 on his Australian Open debut previously 10 years. The fourth participant to perform the feat, J.J. Wolf, did so earlier within the day and also will be Shelton’s subsequent opponent. 

One yr in the past, Shelton was No. 569 within the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and nonetheless in faculty on the College of Florida. The lefty was not but within the high spot of his crew’s lineup.

However Shelton has shortly confirmed himself probably the most harmful gamers on the circuit, along with his serve and aggressive recreation proving powerful for all opponents to cope with. Regardless of this being his first journey outdoors the US, Shelton has made himself at dwelling in Melbourne, embracing the group on the yr’s first main.

Shelton known as his dad and mom proper after the match. His father, former World No. 55 Bryan Shelton, was additionally Ben’s coach on the College of Florida.

“He was undoubtedly excited. It is like 5:40 there, and so they have a match in the present day, the crew does. So I feel I tousled his sleep schedule slightly bit,” Shelton mentioned, cracking a smile. “He nonetheless has his analytical thoughts going and talked to me in regards to the issues that I did very well in the present day and the few issues that I may have accomplished a bit higher. So, yeah, he was blissful general.”

The American hit 34 winners and made simply 25 unforced errors towards Popyrin, who had upset High 10 star Taylor Fritz within the second spherical. He transformed two of his eight break factors and gained 87 per cent of his first-serve factors to triumph after two hours inside John Cain Area.

“I advised myself that I needed to provide myself extra of a inexperienced gentle in the present day after I performed, not be as hesitant in the midst of the factors however actually go for my photographs a bit extra and be okay with some errors and know that it was going to repay in the long term,” Shelton mentioned. “I believed I caught to that plan in the present day and executed very well.”

Shelton cracked the High 100 for the primary time in November 2022, and is now No. 65 within the Pepperstone ATP Stay Rankings. His subsequent opponent, Wolf, defeated countryman Michael Mmoh 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 earlier within the day.

“We’re good mates, wish to joke round so much, have a number of locker room banter. So he is an efficient man,” Shelton mentioned. “Positively excited to have the ability to play him, and I feel it is a match that the group will for positive take pleasure in.”

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