Ben Shelton will face his friend and countryman Frances Tiafoe in the quarterfinals of the 2023 US Open. On the eve of the match, the young American shared beautiful words for his friend and opponent at the press conference.
He explained: "I think playing at the net is complicated, but this quality has definitely improved my tennis. It's something you have to train a lot, but also implement in matches. It's much more difficult to do it during a match, because you don't have that many margins.
I put emphasis on searching the net and have seen improvements throughout the tournament. Playing doubles helped me: I've played a lot of tournaments lately. I always want to win my doubles matches, but this way I get the chance to work on certain skills." His next opponent will be Frances Tiafoe: "He's been like a brother to me since I've been on the Tour.
You've always believed in me since the first tournament. A very good boy off the pitch; a nightmare to face on the pitch. She knows how to get the crowd involved: he's one of those guys who's worth watching television for. He produces almost the same effect as Carlos Alcaraz, especially in New York.
To be able to play against him in the quarterfinals against Arthur Ashe is something really special. It's a shame that two of the three Americans have to face each other in the quarterfinals. I think it's a really good opportunity for American tennis.
This is what you always tell us about: who will be the next Grand Slam champion? My answer is always the same: American tennis is going in the right direction."
The Rise of Ben Shelton
Before taking to the court against James Duckworth in Adelaide last January, Ben Shelton had never played in any tournament outside the United States.
The young tennis player from Atlanta, in his first real season on the major circuit, exceeded all wildest expectations and reached the quarterfinals at both the Australian Open and the US Open. In Melbourne, Tommy Paul put an end to his surprising journey; the same opponent he defeated to take a career-best finish at Flushing Meadows.
After a series of not too encouraging results, Shelton found the right sensations in the last Major of the year. The 20-year-old has also decided to participate in the doubles tournament on more than one occasion, he did so in Atlanta, Washington and Cincinnati, with a clear goal: to perfect his net game to become increasingly dangerous.
A choice that is bearing fruit, because Shelton's great merit at the US Open was precisely that of combining aggression and precision.