Ben Shelton triumphs in another 5-set match at Wimbledon to equal his father’s record: ‘We’re back, Big Dog!’

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Ben Shelton returns the ball in the game

When Ben Shelton was growing up, he wasn’t very interested in hearing about his father’s career in professional tennis. In fact, his dad didn’t talk much about it either.

However, Ben now knows what his father Bryan accomplished all those years ago—and they now have something in common: reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon.

In only his second appearance at the All England Club, Ben made it to the fourth round by defeating Denis Shapovalov, a left-handed player who has reached the semifinals of Grand Slam tournaments. The match ended with a score of 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 on Saturday. Bryan Shelton reached the last 16 men in the Wimbledon draw in 1994.

Ben’s tennis coach at the University of Florida used to be his father Bryan, who left that position a little over a year ago to focus on coaching his son. Bryan was in the stands at No. 1 Court, offering advice and support.

After the match, Ben shouted over to his dad, “We’re back, Big Dog!”

“He’s not someone who likes to talk about himself, so he didn’t really talk about his career when I was younger. I was playing other sports and didn’t care much about tennis and his playing days,” said Ben, who reached the semifinals at last year’s U.S.

Open. “But in the last few years, especially since I started playing professionally, he gives me advice based on his experience rather than telling stories.”

Ben Shelton pumped up after winning the game

Ben hit serves reaching speeds of up to 140 mph (225 kph), tying for the fastest in the tournament so far, and won his third consecutive five-set match.

As the 14th seed, Ben Shelton is the first man to achieve this at Wimbledon since Ernests Gulbis; no player has ever won four matches in a row in five sets at any major tournament in the Open era, which began in 1968.

“I am really proud of what Ben is achieving here at this special place. Reaching the fourth round 30 years ago was my biggest accomplishment, so it’s no surprise Ben has already matched that. He is eager to surpass me in every way,” Bryan wrote in a text message to the AP.

“Seriously, the way he is battling through these five-set matches is what impresses us the most. Seeing him enjoying himself on court and showing his skills is exactly what you hope for. It’s great to see him express himself.”

Shelton, who is 21 years old, said he doesn’t feel tired as he prepares for a tough match on Sunday against the No. 1-ranked Jannik Sinner, aiming for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Sinner won his third-round match on Friday night, while Shelton and Shapovalov only played five games that day before rain stopped play. They resumed the match on Saturday.

“I didn’t notice any fatigue on his part. He looked good,” said Shapovalov, who reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2021.

Ben Shelton returns the ball

There have been a record 33 five-set matches at Wimbledon so far, the most through three rounds at any major tournament.

Shapovalov attributed this to the depth of talent on the tour and the scarcity of grass-court specialists. Shelton mentioned that he enjoys the challenge of playing matches that can go the distance.

“There are many things I appreciate about five sets. The duration of time spent on court makes it a physical test. You have to be prepared to go all the way and be in good shape,” he said.

“There’s also plenty of time for players to adjust, so you can’t simply dominate someone in one way. Most of the time, you have to figure things out and make adjustments when your opponent starts adapting.”


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