Pro Media & News

Ben Shelton wins first ATP Tour title in Tokyo

Arthur Kapetanakis | October 23, 2023


Ben Shelton broke new ground in his breakout season by claiming his first ATP Tour singles title on Sunday in Tokyo. The 21-year-old American earned three comeback wins in his run at the ATP 500—including one from a set and 5-2 down against Marcos Giron in the semifinals—before claiming the title with an emphatic victory against Aslan Karatsev in Sunday's final.

 

The result moved Shelton up to a new career-high ATP ranking of world No. 15, less than 10 months after he began the 2023 season at No. 96. He joins No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 12 Tommy Paul and No. 14 Frances Tiafoe to make it four American men in the Top 15 for the first time since 1997.

 

Dating back to his run to the US Open semifinals, Shelton is now 14-2 in his last 16 singles matches—a run that also includes a Laver Cup win and his first ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal in Shanghai.

 

His Tokyo triumph also created some family history alongside his father and coach, Bryan Shelton. The pair are now the fourth father-son duo to win tour-level singles titles in the Open Era.

"That meant a lot to me and my team," Shelton said of his maiden title, following his 7-5, 6-1 final victory against Karatsev.

 

"We have been working really hard since the beginning to build my game and win titles on the ATP Tour. I made some deep runs lately. You see the great champions, they finish weeks off. They win titles, they don't just get to finals. They are able to maintain their level throughout the week. I am not saying I am anywhere there yet, but to be able to do it for one week, put together five matches in a row in Tokyo is really special."

 

Shelton battled back from a set down in each of his first two Tokyo matches, edging Japanese home favorite Taro Daniel and then Aussie Jordan Thompson to reach the quarterfinals. He then beat fellow American Tommy Paul, repeating the result from their US Open fourth-round meeting, before escaping another countryman, Giron, in the semis.

Trailing by a set and a double break at 5-2 in the second against Giron, Shelton was twice two points from defeat on return but rallied for a 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-4 victory. In the final against Karatsev, he ran away with the match after a tight opening set, fighting off the only break point against him.

 

The victory kept the Tokyo title in American hands, one year after Fritz beat Tiafoe in an all-American final in the Japanese capital.

 

Shelton will look to continue his blistering late-season form this week in Vienna, where he faces a marquee opening-round matchup against second seed Jannik Sinner. Two weeks ago, Shelton beat Sinner to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal in Shanghai.

 

"I am really looking forward to this tail-end stretch of the year," said Shelton, who could finish his season at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, if he elects to play. "I think it is a great opportunity for me. Earlier in the season I was losing early in weeks, so my match count is not that high, so I am feeling fresh. I am looking forward to finishing the season strong."

 

Shelton also finished the 2022 season on a tear, winning his last 15 matches to claim three Challenger titles—all on the USTA Pro Circuit.

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