In a thrilling fourth-round match at the U.S. Open, 47th-ranked Ben Shelton emerged victorious over No. 14 seed Tommy Paul, securing his spot in the Grand Slam quarterfinals for the second time this year. The 20-year-old Floridian displayed an impressive performance, overpowering his fellow American with a final score of 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Shelton attributes his success to the support of the American crowd, stating, "It's just different here being at home, being in front of an American crowd. I've felt the love all week, playing against foreigners. Played another American today, and we had a great battle. The crowd was pretty split, but an unbelievable atmosphere."
The young Floridian made history during the match, blasting two 149-mph aces in one game during the third set. This achievement marks the highest recorded ace speed in the tournament, leaving even Paul in awe. Reflecting on the moment, Shelton said, "Just straight adrenaline. I think my arm might fall off."
Shelton's impressive run in the U.S. Open marks a significant milestone for American male players. With no American male having won a Grand Slam event in two decades, Shelton has the potential to become the country's first major champion since Andy Roddick lifted the trophy in Flushing in 2003. This year's tournament has seen a resurgence of American talent, with four American men reaching the fourth round for the first time since 2011.
Joining Shelton in the quarterfinals is Taylor Fritz, the No. 9 seed, who will be facing Switzerland's Dominic Stricker later in the day. If both Shelton and Fritz manage to avoid elimination, this will be the first time in 20 years that three American men advance to the Open quarters. The last time this feat was accomplished was in 2005 when Andre Agassi, James Blake, and Robby Ginepri all reached the final eight.
The pressure is on for an American male player to break the two-decade dry spell, and the remaining players are well aware of the expectations. Each time they pass a TV displaying the question of whether an American will win a Grand Slam for the first time in 20 years, it serves as a reminder of the magnitude of their performances. However, they are embracing the challenge and relishing the opportunity to make history.
As Shelton prepares to face the winner of the match between No.10 Frances Tiafoe and Australian Rinky Hijikata, the stage is set for a thrilling quarterfinal showdown. The tournament is witnessing a resurgence of American tennis, and fans are eagerly awaiting to see if one of their own can overcome the dominance of players like Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal and bring a major victory back to the United States.