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.
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.
Lotta love for the Gators🐊🙌🏽 pic.twitter.com/ZVdbW6lGmp
— Ben Shelton (@BenShelton) August 23, 2022
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.
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.
— Gators Men's Tennis (@GatorsMTN) January 23, 2023
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.