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Shelton Throttles Karatsev To Reach First US Open Fourth Round

Sep 2nd 2023

Shelton subdues Karatsev 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 to reach US Open 4th round for first time

Aslan Karatsev, an ATP Tour veteran just shy of thirty, was searching for his first round-of-16 appearance at the US Open. The supremely competitive Russian reached a career-high rank of #14 last season but is currently #77

With three career titles all on hardcourt, he poses a formidable challenge for any opponent despite his lackluster performance during the summer hardcourt swing. Despite winning just one match heading into the season’s final slam, his ranking improved from 129 this past April as he regained confidence.

Ben Shelton just twenty years of age, turned pro last summer and has not looked back. The lefty from Georgia reached a career-high rank of #35 this past spring due primarily to his impressive run to the quarters at the Australian Open. 

The 2022 NCAA champion is looking for his first title and what better place than his home slam. Currently ranked #47, the American lost twice to the 18-year-old phenom from China, Juncheng Shang in addition to two second-round losses – Carlos Alcaraz in Canada and Stefanos Tsitsipas in Cincinnati - during the summer swing. 

APA/AFP/Getty Images/Al Bello

This was their first tour-level meeting with a coveted spot in the 4th round on the line. Karatsev opened play in the Grandstand on a spectacular summer day. He struck two fantastic forehand winners and held to love. Shelton returned the favor hitting two consecutive winners including a 136mph ace up the tee on game point to hold at love to level. 

The Russian opened the third with a brilliant backhand down the line overhead but dumped serve following three backhand errors while Shelton opened the fourth with two additional aces and consolidated the break at love for 3-1.

Karatsev opened the fifth with his first double fault yet held to 30 for 2-3 with two magnificent forehand winners. The American opened the sixth with an ace up the tee and for the third time, held at love.

Karatsev hit three outstanding forehand winners and held easily to 15 for 3-4 while Shelton serving with new balls, struck a remarkable backhand stab drop volley to open and held at love with an ace out wide. 

Karatsev missed 3/5 first serves including a double fault yet held to 15 for 4-5 with a huge serve out wide. Shelton lost his first and only point on serve and secured the set 6-4 with two additional aces. 

Karatsev served first in the second and held at love while Shelton hit three consecutive winners including two aces to level at 1-1. The Russian made 3/4 first serves including an ace out wide on game point for a love hold while the American gifted a double fault and dropped serve after netting a slice backhand. 

Karatsev struck four winners but with another double fault faced three deuce and two break points yet consolidated the break for 4-1 when his opponent missed wide with the backhand pass. Shelton hit three additional aces and held for 2-4 while Karatsev continued to struggle on serve. He missed 6/12 first serves including a double fault and faced three deuce and break point but held for 5-2

Shelton hit three additional aces and an overhead smash and held at love for 3-5 while Karatsev opened the 9th with an overhead smash and clinched the set 6-3 when Shelton overcooked a forehand. 

The American served first in the third and held to 30 while Karatsev struck two winners and held at love to level. Shelton raced to a 40-0 lead following three consecutive colossal serves but with his third double fault faced deuce. The American phenom admirably regrouped with a forehand drop volley winner and an ace up the tee for 2-1

Karatsev opened the fourth with an ace and closed with an impressive crosscourt forehand for 2-2 while Shelton struck two additional aces and held easily to 15 for 3-2. Karatsev opened the 6th with a stunning inside-out forehand but with his fifth double fault faced break point and dropped serve when he overcooked a forehand. 

Shelton opened the 7th with two consecutive winners and consolidated the break at love for 5-2 with a 147mph ace up the tee! Serving to stay in the set Karatsev collapsed; he donated three additional double faults to drop serve and the set 2-6.

Shelton served first in the fourth and with three consecutive winners including two aces, held to 15 while Karatsev opened with an extraordinary forehand down the line but with another costly double fault, faced two break points and dumped serve when Shelton ripped a forehand down the line return winner. 

The American continued to feast off the energy of the partisan crowd as he struck two additional aces to hold to 30 for 3-0. The Russian opened the fourth with two consecutive double faults and with two consecutive forehand errors, dumped serve.

Shelton just two games from the fourth round faced a break point and deuce but escaped with three additional aces, the last on game point. Karatsev serving to stay in the match gifted two additional double faults and conceded the game, set, and match with his fifteenth double fault.

It was an unfortunate ending to a hard-hitting, entertaining match. Shelton finished with twenty-six aces while Karatsev hit three. The young American competed at an exceedingly high level under pressure. He won 86% of first and 68% of second serve points and 25% of first and 57% of second serve return points. He converted 6/10 break points and struck thirty-eight winners to fifteen unforced errors. 

It was a remarkably poised performance from the world #47. Next up, a rematch of the Australian Open quarters. Shelton will seek revenge against compatriot and world #14 Tommy Paul who prevailed in a tight four-setter. This all-American fourth-round match will probably be scheduled primetime in Ashe Stadium and therefore, must-see TV!