WATCH: Shelton won his first match of the 2023 season in Auckland after ending 2022 on a 15-match winning streak.


Ben Shelton has become the darling of tennis insiders, the player bubbling just under the game’s best with all the attributes of a future champion. At 20 years old, the American youngster appears poised to go mainstream in his first trip outside the United States—and his first win in a Grand Slam main draw at the 2023 Australian Open.

How much farther can Shelton go? Get to know the lefty powerhouse and Florida Gator ahead of his second-round encounter with Nicolas Jarry:

The Basics

Armed with fluid technique and anchored by an impeccable service motion, Shelton was poised for a fruitful college career in 2020 when the former USTA National doubles champion committed to the University of Florida, playing for the Gators under father and coach Bryan Shelton.

But even as he proved his mettle with an NCAA Division I Championship title, the pro level proved enticing as he worked his way up the rankings the following season. By the summer of 2022, he had reached his first ATP Challenger final.

Ranked outside the Top 200 when he accepted a wild card into the Western & Southern Open, the 6’4” Shelton stole headlines when he scored a massive upset over world No. 5 Casper Ruud, who was fresh off his first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros.

Though his US Open debut ended in a first-round, five-set heartbreaker, Shelton was undaunted, taking his heavy game back to the Challenger level to reel off 15 straight matches and three titles to end the 2022 season ranked inside the Top 100.

The Latest

The youngster hasn’t been as indomitable in his first trip to Australia, going 1-2 through his first two tournaments in Adelaide and Auckland, but Shelton finds himself in an intriguing part of the draw that had many putting him into the third round before he played a match.

“Maybe eight months ago I wouldn’t think I’d be in this position, but I’m lucky I have a good team around me helping me,” he told the New York Times.


Shelton is already halfway there after winning a redemptive five-setter against Zhang Zhizhen, and next faces Chilean qualifier Jarry to set up what could be an all-American blockbuster against No. 8 seed Taylor Fritz.

Why It Matters

Much is made over the state of American men’s tennis, and the current generation has given fans plenty to cheer for as they put themselves in contention for Grand Slam second week appearances. But does a potential champion stand out among them? Most of the current crop still isn’t so sure they can compete with the likes of Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz.

Still just 20 years old, Shelton has no such hangups, bursting onto the scene in his first match against a Top 5 opponent. That kind of confidence should help him in a potential match with Fritz, who wilted under the pressure at the US Open last summer.

Regardless of where he finishes in Melbourne, the Ben Shelton bandwagon is about to leave the station: best get on before it pulls away.