Former Gator Ben Shelton has chomped his way to the Australian Open quarterfinal.
Shelton beat fellow American and former Ohio State Buckeye J.J. Wolf in the Round of 16 to advance to the quarterfinal. His fourth-round victory made him the first American man to reach a major quarterfinal before turning 21 since Andy Roddick did so at Wimbledon in 2003.
Shelton has run into a couple hurdles in his Australian Open run throughout the past week. He first played Association of Tennis Professionals No. 96 Zhizhen Zhang. The match went all the way to five sets, but Shelton prevailed (4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (4)) to move onto the second round.
The 20-year-old had little trouble taking down his opponents in the second and third rounds. He didn’t drop a single set as he beat Nicolas Jarry (7-6 (3), 7-6 (3), 7-5) and ATP No. 113 Alexei Popyrin (6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-4).
He faced off against ATP No. 67 Wolf in the fourth round. The 6-foot-4-inch Shelton needed five sets to defeat Wolf. He won the match 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-2, to punch his ticket to the quarterfinal.
Shelton has seen success his whole career and is now duplicating it on a professional stage. He won the National Collegiate Athletic Association team championship in 2021, and he won the NCAA individual title in 2022.
The son of Florida men’s tennis head coach Bryan Shelton was named to the 2021 Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team, 2022 Intercollegiate Tennis Association Collegiate All-Star Team and 2022 First Team All-SEC. Shelton was named 2022 SEC Tournament MVP, 2022 SEC Player of the Year and 2022 ITA National Player of the Year while he played under his father.
Shelton made the decision to go pro and forgo the rest of his college eligibility Aug. 23. He’s now two matches away from playing in the Australian Open final.
He’s set to play fellow American ATP No. 35 Tommy Paul in the quarterfinal at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Kyle Bumpers is a fourth-year journalism major and the sports editor of The Alligator. In his free time, he cries about Russell Wilson and writes an outrageous amount of movie reviews on Letterboxd.