2023 has been a breakout year for the 20-year-old American star Ben Shelton. Earlier this season at the Australian Open, he burst onto the scene with a magnificent run into the quarterfinals. His huge serve and flashy play-style has captivated fans all over the world. He adds even more depth to an already deep roster of Americans in the Top 50 including Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul, Frances Tiafoe, Chris Eubanks, Sebastian Korda, and Mackenzie McDonald.
Now at the US Open, Shelton is at it again. He’s stacked wins together against some of his American compatriots and is now into the semifinals set to play the great Novak Djokovic. With his live rank currently sitting at #19, Shelton is now in position to become yet another young player ready to disrupt the sport at the highest level. Between him, Holger Rune, Jannik Sinner, and Carlos Alcaraz, tennis may finally be heading to its next real era of dominant players.
Past Failure of Talented Young Players
It’s fair to ask the question of what makes this group of young talented players different than the talented youngsters that have come before them. After all, many thought that the trio of Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov, and Kei Nishikori would be the changing of the guard. The problem with that group, aside from the fact that they were all prone to injuries, was that they all played in the midst of the Big 3’s dominance. The next group that was believed to take the throne was the group of Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Daniil Medvedev. Zverev and Tsitsipas have put themselves in position to win majors, but have not broken through quite yet. Medvedev, while dominant on hard courts, has not accomplished much outside of that surface.
So what makes the new group of Alcaraz, Sinner, Rune, and potentially Shelton, different?
It’s simple why this group has more potential. Roger Federer is retired. Rafael Nadal is set to retire at the end of 2024. And at some point, Novak Djokovic will begin to slow down.
Another key factor is that Alcaraz has already ascended to heights that players in the previous groups had not. Sinner has already proved to be an elite rival to Carlos and Rune is one of the youngest players of all time to be ranked in the ATP Top 5.
What About Ben Shelton?
Shelton’s incredible runs at two of the majors this year has easily earned him a spot in the group with Alcaraz, Sinner, and Rune. He provides depth to this next generation of players and may be the superstar that men’s tennis in the U.S. has been waiting for. He has the biggest match of his life upcoming in the US Open semifinals against Novak Djokovic. A win there would propel him into an elite category of players and possibly be the start of a big revival of American men’s tennis. Only time will tell.
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