Ben Shelton has his sights set on attaining Roger Federer’s locker room aura. The 20-year-old American has already made waves in his first full year on tour, reaching the US Open semi-final. And Shelton hopes to leave his rivals “scared” when they see his name in the draw in the future.
Shelton will face one of the toughest tests of his young career on Friday as he takes on Novak Djokovic in the semi-final of the US Open. The world No 47 has already played and lost to Carlos Alcaraz at the recent Canadian Open though facing the 23-time Major champion at a Grand Slam will be another beast altogether.
But the 20-year-old appears to be up for the challenge as he showed his fearless nature weeks before reaching the last four at his home Grand Slam tournament. Speaking in July, the former college tennis player revealed that he wanted to emulate the reputation that Federer had in his prime.
“I want to be that dude in the draw where there’s not one player that wants to see me,” Shelton said in a chat with compatriots Christopher Eubanks and Frances Tiafoe for Ultimate Tennis Showdown. But Eubanks thought the world No 47 had already achieved that.
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“Who wants to see you right now? Carlos Alcaraz does not want to see your name next to his. Bro I can promise you that,” the 27-year-old said. It wasn’t enough for Shelton, however, as he wanted to take things to another level like Federer.
He added: “I’m not talking just doesn’t want to. I’m talking scared of me. Like genuine. Like Roger in his prime, he pulls up to a tournament and everyone’s thinking about him.” While Shelton is still in the early stages of his career, he has already made a statement in his first few months.
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The 20-year-old made his tour-level debut as a wildcard in Atlanta last summer and just a few weeks later, he stunned world No 5 Casper Ruud at the Cincinnati Masters. After a successful launch on the circuit, he gave up college tennis to go pro and won three Challenger titles at the end of the season to break into the top 100.
Shelton then reached the quarter-final at the Australian Open. But he hadn’t won back-to-back matches all year since that run until getting to the last four in Flushing Meadows. If he keeps up his deep runs at the Majors – coupled with the 149mph serves – the American could have the locker room aura he’s hoping for.
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