Ben Shelton, a talented American player, achieved his maiden ATP Tour championship on Sunday by defeating Russian opponent Aslan Karatsev 7-5, 6-1 at the Japan Open final.
Shelton’s professional career began in August of last year, yet he managed to make it to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in January and the semi-finals of the US Open just last month.
The 21-year-old player faced a challenging path, competing in a series of three-set matches to make it to the Tokyo final. However, he easily defeated the 50th ranked player Karatsev in a little over 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Shelton expressed his gratitude for the recognition, stating that both he and his team have dedicated a lot of effort towards improving his game and achieving success on the ATP Tour. He has recently had some strong performances, and acknowledges that true champions not only reach finals but also consistently maintain their high level of play throughout the entire tournament.
I haven’t reached my goal yet, but being able to achieve it for one week and play five consecutive matches in Tokyo is truly extraordinary.
Shelton emerged victorious in the initial set by securing a 6-5 advantage through a break of his opponent’s serve, and then successfully holding his own serve in the following game.
Karatsev had difficulty regaining his composure in the second set and expressed frustration by smashing his racquet when unforced errors started affecting his performance.
On the final point of the match, Karatsev’s shot went out of bounds, giving Shelton the win.
The American athlete expressed his joy by sprinting towards his team and embracing his father, Bryan, who also serves as his coach.
Karatsev advanced to the final by winning all of his matches in straight sets, including defeating fourth seed Alex de Minaur and sixth seed Frances Tiafoe.
The product of the University of Florida also defeated Karatsev at the US Open.
Shelton started the season ranked 96th in the world but will now reach a personal best of No. 15 in the upcoming rankings. This impressive jump is due to his unexpected success at both the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows.