10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Shelton into Shanghai Masters quarterfinals by beating world No. 4 Sinner

Ben Shelton breakthrough 2023 campaign continued with a 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) upset of Beijing champion and world No. 4 Jannik Sinner in round four of the Rolex Shanghai Masters on Tuesday. Shelton booked his spot in the quarterfinals after two hours and 30 minutes.

He celebrated his 21st birthday on Monday and there more celebrations in store one day later. Shelton delivered a clutch performance and was ruthless on serve over the course of the last two sets against Sinner. The former NCAA singles champion failed to convert any of eight break chances in the third set, but he also saved two break points. That led to a tiebreaker, which Shelton won after leading 4-0, falling behind 5-4, and then winning the final three points.

“I had a lot of belief in my ability to serve and hang tough and to make it deep in sets,” Shelton explained. “I trusted my fitness levels, being able to go the distance. That gave me a lot of confidence. My serve wasn’t working that well in the first set; I felt that he was really on top of me. I really started to find my groove and had one of my best serving days in the second and third sets.”

The American has been enjoying a lot of great days in 2023. He reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and the semis of the U.S. Open before starring throughout Team World’s dominant win at the Laver Cup. Shelton is up to No. 20 in the rankings and will climb at least to No. 17 if he wins his next match against compatriot Sebastian Korda.

“This is a pretty crazy atmosphere,” Shelton said after beating Sinner. “To think that a year and a half ago I was in college and a year ago playing Challengers, now I am on Center Court in Shanghai with the crowd singing happy birthday. It is one of those pinch-me moments.”

He is joined in the Shanghai quarters by Korda, Hubert Hurkacz, and Fabian Marozsan. Korda held off Francisco Cerundolo 7-5, 7-6(6), Hurkacz battled past Zhizhen Zhang 7-6(6), 4-6, 7-6(4), and Marozsan ousted Casper Ruud 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-4.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.