Ben Shelton, at just 20 years old, has become the talk of the 2023 U.S. Open with his blazing serves and stellar play that has moved him to the men’s singles quarterfinals after defeating Tommy Paul in four sets on Sunday.
The Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd was in awe when they saw the speed of two serves off Shelton’s lefty stroke reach 149 miles per hour against Paul, which came while he was serving at 3-1 in the third set.
Shelton already had the fastest serve at this Open at 147 miles per hour in his previous match against Aslan Karatsev.
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The fastest serve ever at the U.S. Open came off Andy Roddick’s racket at 152 miles per hour in 2004.
“I think straight adrenaline,” Shelton said about his serves, per ATP Tour. “I think any other atmosphere I wouldn't be able to get it down, and I think my arm might have come off. But it is feeling pretty good right now.”
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 ended up winning the U.S. Open in 2003, was also 20 years in that tournament.
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In 2002, Roddick ended up falling in the quarterfinal, which Shelton obviously hopes doesn’t happen in his first trip. Shelton reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in January, where he actually fell to Paul.
This time, Shelton got his revenge with a victory of 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
Now, Shelton will go on to face another fellow American in Frances Tiafoe, who defeated Rinky Hijikata.
Shelton and Tiafoe will make history when they both step on the court Tuesday as this is the first major tournament since 1968 to feature multiple Black American men in the quarterfinal, per ESPN.
“Being at home here in front of an American crowd, I have felt the love all week,” Shelton said. “I played another American today, and we had a great battle. It is hard to believe I am playing on Arthur Ashe right now with the stands completely full.”
Taylor Fritz is the third American that will be featured in the quarterfinals following his victory against Dominic Stephan Stricker in the round of 16. All three of them will be looking to be the first American to win the U.S. Open since Roddick did so in 2003.
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Shelton will be using that monster serve to try to get there just like Roddick did 20 years ago.