Although Ben Shelton is just 20 years old, the US Open semifinalist has already rewritten tennis history. He became the lowest-ranked American male to reach a Grand Slam semifinal round since Jimmy Connors 32 years earlier, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Ben Shelton is in the US Open semis as the 47th-ranked player in the world.
He’s the lowest ranked American man to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since Jimmy Connors in 1991 (ranked 174th at age 39). pic.twitter.com/H6ygsIX8P1
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 6, 2023
Shelton reached that gaudy milestone after he beat fellow American Frances Tiafoe in the quarterfinal round on Tuesday. Their match had several historical implications. First, it was the first quarterfinal match between two African-American males since 1968. It was also the first US Open quarterfinal in 18 years between two males who played on their home soil.
Shelton also made history one round earlier. He became the youngest American male since Andy Roddick to reach the US Open quarterfinal round after beating compatriot Tommy Paul in the fourth round.
Ben Shelton, a tall and rangy lefty, gave last year’s US Open finalist fits from the opening set. The former’s left-handed forehands clocked at least 100 mph. Shelton even had an ace that had an exit velocity of 138 mph. The shot drew a loud reaction from the sellout crowd at hot and muggy Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday.
Tiafoe drew even with Shelton one set apiece after he dominated the second stanza, 6-3. The third set was a barnburner than could’ve gone either way. However, Shelton eventually won the tiebreaker and never looked back. He won with a final score of 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-2 to clinch his first US Open semifinal appearance.
Next up for Ben Shelton is 23-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic – the GOAT in Dick Vitale’s opinion. Regardless of the outcome, Shelton will carry the legacy of his American predecessors Jimmy Connors and Andy Roddick.
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