Just 20-year-old Ben Shelton has become the talk of the US Open 2023 with his blistering serves and outstanding game, taking him to the men’s singles quarterfinals after beating Tommy Paul in four sets on Sunday.
The crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium was stunned as they watched the speed of two serves hit 149 mph after Shelton’s left-handed swing at Paul while serving 3-1 in the decider.
Shelton already had the fastest serve of this Open at 147 mph in his previous match against Aslan Karatsev.
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The fastest serve ever at the US Open came from Andy Roddick’s racquet at 152 mph in 2004.
“I think pure adrenaline,” Shelton said of his serves, according to the ATP Tour. “I don’t think in any other atmosphere I would have been able to get it down and I think my arm would have come loose. But right now it feels pretty good.”
It’s only fitting that Shelton and Roddick are mentioned together, as the former is the youngest American to reach the quarterfinals since the latter in 2002. Roddick, who eventually won the US Open in 2003, also entered this tournament when he was 20 years old.
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In 2002, Roddick was eliminated in the quarterfinals, which Shelton naturally hopes doesn’t happen to in his debut appearance. Shelton reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in January, where he actually lost to Paul.
This time, Shelton retaliated with a win 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
Now Shelton meets another American compatriot: Frances Tiafoe, who defeated Rinky Hijikata.
Shelton and Tiafoe will make history when they both take the court on Tuesday as this is the first major tournament since 1968 to feature multiple black Americans in the quarterfinals, according to ESPN.
“Being at home here in front of an American audience made me feel the love all week,” Shelton said. “I played another American today and we had a great fight. It’s hard to believe I’m still playing.” Arthur Ashe At the moment the grandstands are completely full.
Taylor Fritz becomes the third American to make it to the quarterfinals after beating Dominic Stephan Stricker in the round of 16. All three aim to be the first American to win the US Open since Roddick in 2003.
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Shelton will use that monster serve to try and get there, just like Roddick did 20 years ago.