Ben Shelton of the U.S. celebrates after defeating Nicolas Jarry of Chile in their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Shelton to Take on Fellow American in Australian Open Quarterfinals

Former Gator and Gainesville native Ben Shelton will face fellow American Tommy Paul Tuesday night in the Australian Open quarterfinals. The match is set for 10:30 p.m. EST.

Shelton is the first American man in 20 years to reach a major quarterfinal before turning 21.

Family Ties

At the end of August, Shelton announced he was forgoing his last two years of college eligibility to turn professional. Prior to his announcement, he played for the Gators under head coach Bryan Shelton, his father.

During his time at UF, he reached several achievements. Most notably, he clinched a win as a freshman to give the Gators men’s tennis team its first national title. As a sophomore, he ended the season as the SEC Player of the Year and became just the third singles NCAA champion in UF history.

He initially intended to return to UF for his junior season to finish his degree. However, after defeating No. 5 Casper Rudd at the 2022 Cincinnati Masters, he opted to go pro and finish his degree online.

Quarterfinal Bound

This quarterfinal will be Shelton’s first just five months into his professional career. His last matchup was a 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-2 win over J.J. Wolf on Monday. Prior to the match, Shelton commented that he and Wolf are good friends, adding that he was excited to be able to play him.

The world No. 89 arguably played his best match in Melbourne on Saturday with a 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-4 win over Australia’s Alexei Popyrin. Following his victory over Popyrin, Shelton told reporters he hadn’t stopped smiling since the end of the match.

What’s Next for Shelton

The quarterfinal match is set for Tuesday night at 10:30 EST. If Shelton is to secure the victory over Tommy Paul, he’ll advance to the semifinals on Thursday. He’d be playing the winner of Andrey Rublev vs. Novak Djokovic, whose match is set for Wednesday morning at 3:30 EST.

About Scarlett Cooney

Scarlett Cooney is a third-year journalism student specializing in sports and media.

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