Former college star Ben Shelton reaches his first Grand Slam quarter final at the Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Former college star Ben Shelton reaches his first Grand Slam quarter final at the Australian Open

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US Ben Shelton battled past J.J. Wolf 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 after 3 hours and 51 minutes on John Cain Arena in a clash between former NCAA stars to advance to the quarter finals at the Australian Open in Melbourne on his debut at the Australian Open. Shelton is playing in only his second Grand Slam tournament and was on his first trip outside the United States. 

 

Shelton fired 64 winners and fended off both break points he faced.

“It’s been a pretty special week for me. Definitely a lot on my plate, playing my first Grand Slam outside the United States. Starting school this week. It’s been a lot, but I am really enjoying it so far. I got on the plane with no expectations. It’s very hard to adjust to Australia from the United States just with the jet leg, time change and everything”, said Shelton. 

Both players held on their service games in the first set en route to the tie-break. Wolf took the lead after an error from Shelton to take the tie-break 7-5. 

Shelton earned a break in the fifth game of the second set to take a 3-2 lead. He sealed the set 6-3 with a double break in the ninth game to level the match to 1-1. 

Both players held on their service games in the third set en route to the tie-break. Shelton earned a mini-break to take a 2-0 lead, but Wolf pulled back on serve before earning a second mini-break on the eighth point to win the tie-break 7-4.  

The fourth set also went on serve with no breaks of serve and was decided by a third tie-break. Shelton built a 6-2 lead in the tie-break of the fourth set before wrapping it up on his third set point. 

Shelton earned his third break of the match in the second game to open up a 3-0 lead in the fifth set. The 20-year-old NCAA champion from the Florida University converted the fourth of his nine break points in the sixth game to seal the fifth set 6-2. 

“It was definitely a grueling match. There were a lot of a swings throughout the match, going to me and then him. I was focused on the fifth set, being energetic, trusting my fitness and hustling. I was courageous and I think I did a good job of competing at the highest level in the fifth set. Each set that I have won here has felt the same. It’s a mixture of joy, relief. I just have that feeling of ecstacy. When the last ball lands, I did it. To be able to do on this stage four times in a row, that feeling over and over again, has been pretty cool”, said Shelton. 

Shelton was world number 569 in the ATP Ranking and was playing at collegiate level under the guidance of his father Bryan Shelton, who was a former professional tennis player and Florida Gators men’s tennis coach. All his family is involved in the world of tennis. His mother Lisa Witsken Shelton was a highly-ranked junior tennis player. His uncle Todd Witsken Shelton was a professional player and his sister played college in Florida. As a child, Shelton did not want to play tennis, and instead played American Football. His parents did not put pressure their son to play tennis. At the age of 12, Shelton began playing tennis regularly. 

“My father has definitely been the biggest influence in my tennis. Being a former pro, going through this whole process in a similar way. He did not have near the amount of opportunity that I had growing up in terms of tennis. He had such a harder path than me. He went to college, same as me, and got his degree from Georgia Tech, and then had a successful career on tour. To be able to learn from him, with the whole life experience he has, it was not an easy street for him, so he knows all of the hardships and struggles of being here here, making it on the tour, it’s priceless to be able to have that knowledge and that person to go to. His tennis analytical mind is one of the best I have ever seen. To be able to talk to him before each match, after each match, let me what I have done, positive or negative. I think the negative is probably more important because it’s what I can change, what I can improve on, it’s been a great resource”.  

Shelton improved his position in the ATP Ranking by 46 spots climbing to a career-high of world number 43. Last year he made his debut in a Major Tournament at the US Open after earning a wild card by winning the NCAA singles title. 

“I think I am in a pretty good place physically. I think that since the last Grand Slam I played in the US Open where I was struggling, five sets in the heat, I barely survived. My fitness wasn’t near what I needed it to be at. So I have worked really hard these last five or six months to get to where I want to be. I am still not there. There are still a lot of improvements that I can make. I am young and I have time to make those improvements, but I feel pretty confident in my ability in the upcoming matches that I can go there and I can last five sets with anybody. I am definitely taking care of my body the right way, trying to bring myself to peak performance for these matches”, continued Shelton. 

Shelton becomes the second US player to reach the quarter finals at this edition of the Australian Open after Sebatian Korda, who beat Hubert Hurkacz on Sunday. 

Wolf, who was a NCAA star at Ohio State, moved up 20 spots to world number 47 in the ATP Ranking. 

It’s the first time since 2007 that two US male players have reached the quarter finals at the Australian Open.  

Later today Tommy Paul became the third player to advance to the quarter finals after beating Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2 4-6 6-2 7-5 on Margaret Court Arena. 

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Jelena Ostapenko overcomes Danielle Collins in a thrilling match in Abu Dhabi

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Number 5 seed Jelena Ostapenko battled past Danielle Collins 7-5 1-6 7-5 in 2 hours and 16 minutes in a rollercoaster match to advance to the second round at the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open. 

 

Ostapenko has extended her winning streak to six consecutive matches on Emirati soil. The Latvian player clinched her fifth WTA Tour title in Dubai in February 2022. 

The 2017 Roland Garros champion beat Collins for the second time in as many meetings after beating Collins 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 in the 2018 Milami semifinals.

Ostapenko continued her good period of form after reaching the quarter finals at the Australian Open. She will face a second round against either Zheng Quinwen or qualifier Rebecca Marino. 

Collins earned her first break with a return winner to take a 4-3 lead, but she made a double fault, as she was a break point down when she serving for the set. Ostapenko reeled off four consecutive games to seal the first set 7-5. 

Collins bounced back in the second set by earning a double break with three consecutive return winners to seal the second set 6-1 forcing the match to the third set. 

Ostapenko converted her fifth break point in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Collins pulled back on serve in the eighth game after three double faults from Ostapenko to draw level to 4-4. Ostapenko won 12 of the last 15 points to close out the third set 7-5. 

“Danielle is a great player. It’s always a tough match against her because she plays really well and she’s such a fighter. The match is never over until we shake hands. I am really glad that, even I did not play  my best tennis, I was fighting and I managed to win the match. These kind of matches give confidence”, said Ostapenko. 

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Davis Cup

Davis Cup Round-Up: Who Has Qualified For The Finals Group Stage?

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MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 05: Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2021 at Madrid Arena on December 05, 2021 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

Over the weekend 12 ties took place around the world to decide which countries would qualify for the Davis Cup Finals Group Stage later this year.

Borna Coric, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, Stan Wawrinka and Cameron Norrie were among those who participated in the historic team competition which began in 1900. There were plenty of highs and lows with some teams rewriting the history books for their countries.

Perhaps the biggest shock occurred at the Espoo Metro Arena where Finland stunned four-time champions Argentina 3-1. Home favorite Emil Ruusuvuori guided his team to victory by winning both of his singles matches in straight sets, as well as the doubles alongside Harri Heliovaara. It is the first time the Scandinavian country has qualified for the Finals stage.

 

History was also made in the South Korean capital of Seoul where the home nation came back from a 0-2 deficit to win a tie for the first time. Taking on Belgium, Korea fell behind after losing to David Goffin and Zizou Bergs on the opening day. However, they turned their fortunes around with a three-match winning streak to become the only Asian team to reach the final playoffs this year.

In one of the most anticipated clashes, Wawrinka guided Switzerland to a thrilling 3-2 win over Germany. The three-time Grand Slam champion endured a roller-coaster run after losing to Zverev in his opening match and then in the doubles alongside teammate Dominic Stricker. However, he clinched the decisive point for his team by defeating Daniel Altmaier 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. Switzerland’s other two points were earned by Marc-Andrea Huesler who defeated Zverev and Oscar Otte.

There was also a close battle between France and Hungary. Tied at 2-2, Ugo Humbert sealed victory for his country by defeating Fabian Marozsan 6-3, 6-3. France has won the Davis Cup 10 times and was runner-up on nine other occasions.

Great Britain prevailed on the South American clay by defeating Colombia 3-1. After Dan Evans lost his opening match against Nicolas Mejia, the Brits bounced back with the help of two wins by Norrie and a crucial victory in the doubles. In the doubles match Evans and Neal Skupski stunned former world No.1 players Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah. 

Also through to the finals are America, Serbia and the Netherlands who all won their ties 4-0. Meanwhile, Sweden, Croatia and the Czech Republic all won 3-1.

The 12 winning countries will join Canada, Australia, Italy and Spain in the playoffs for the finals in September. The Group Stage will be held at four different venues from 12 to 17 September. The eight best teams will then progress to the finals in Malaga which will be held from 21 to 26 November.

Full results

CROATIA defeated AUSTRIA 3-1
Borna Coric (CRO) d. Dennis Novak (AUT) 6-3 7-5
Borna Gojo (CRO) d. Dominic Thiem (AUT) 6-3 7-6(2)
Alexander Erler/Lucas Miedler (AUT) d. Ivan Dodig/Nikola Mektic (CRO) 6-3 7-6(11)
Borna Coric (CRO) d. Dominic Thiem (AUT) 7-6(3) 6-2

FRANCE defeated HUNGARY 3-2
Zsombor Piros (HUN) d. Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) 7-6(4) 6-3
Ugo Humbert (FRA) d. Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 6-3 6-2
Fabian Marozsan/Mate Valkusz (HUN) d. Nicolas Mahut/Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) 6-2 7-6(4)
Adrian Mannarino (FRA) d. Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 7-6(6) 6-2
Ugo Humbert (FRA) d. Fabian Marozsan (HUN) 6-3 6-3

USA defeated UZBEKISTAN 4-0
Mackenzie Mcdonald (USA) d. Sergey Fomin (UZB) 64 61
Tommy Paul (USA) d. Khumoyun Sultanov (UZB) 61 76(6)
Austin Krajicek/Rajeev Ram (USA) d. Sanjar Fayziev/Sergey Fomin (UZB) 6-2 6-4
Denis Kudla (USA) d. Amir Milushev (UZB) 6-4 6-4

SWITZERLAND defeated GERMANY 3-2
Marc-Andrea Huesler (SUI) d. Oscar Otte (GER) 2-6 6-2 6-4
Alexander Zverev (GER) d. Stan Wawrinka (SUI) 6-4 6-1
Andreas Mies/Tim Puetz (GER) d. Dominic Stricker/Stan Wawrinka (SUI) 6-7(3) 6-3 6-4
Marc-Andrea Huesler (SUI) d. Alexander Zverev (GER) 6-2 7-6(4)
Stan Wawrinka (SUI) d. Daniel Altmaier (GER) 6-3 5-7 6-4

GREAT BRITAIN defeated COLOMBIA 3-1
Nicolas Mejia (COL) d. Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-2 2-6 6-4
Cameron Norrie (GBR) d. Nicolas Barrientos (COL) 6-2 7-5
Daniel Evans/Neal Skupski (GBR) d. Juan-Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah (COL) 6-4 6-4
Cameron Norrie (GBR) d. Nicolas Mejia (COL) 6-4 6-4

SERBIA defeated NORWAY 4-0
Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) d. Andreja Petrovic (NOR) 6-1 6-3
Laslo Djere (SRB) d. Viktor Durasovic (NOR) 6-3 4-6 7-6(8)
Nikola Cacic/Filip Krajinovic (SRB) d. Viktor Durasovic/Herman Hoeyeraal (NOR) 6-4 3-6 6-3
Hamad Medjedovic (SRB) d. Viktor Durasovic (NOR) 6-4 6-7(4) [10-4

CHILE defeated KAZAKHSTAN 3-1
Timofei Skatov (KAZ) d. Cristian Garin (CHI) 6-1 6-3
Nicolas Jarry (CHI) d. Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-2 6-2
Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera/Alejandro Tabilo (CHI) d. Andrey Golubev/Aleksandr Nedovyesov (KAZ) 6-4 7-5
Cristian Garin (CHI) d. Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-4 3-6 6-3

KOREA, REP. defeated BELGIUM 3-2
Zizou Bergs (BEL) d. Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 1-6 6-4 7-6(6)
David Goffin (BEL) d. Hong Seong Chan (KOR) 6-4 6-2
Nam Jisung/Song Min-kyu (KOR) d. Sander Gille/Joran Vliegen (BEL) 7-6(3) 7-6(5)
Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) d. David Goffin (BEL) 3-6 6-1 6-3
Hong Seong Chan (KOR) d. Zizou Bergs (BEL) 6-3 7-6(4)

SWEDEN defeated BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA 3-1
Mikael Ymer (SWE) d. Mirza Basic (BIH) 6-4 7-5
Elias Ymer (SWE) d. Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 6-1 6-4
Mirza Basic/Tomislav Brkic (BIH) d. Andre Goransson/Elias Ymer (SWE) 6-4 6-2
Mikael Ymer (SWE) d. Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 6-1 1-6 6-3

NETHERLANDS defeated SLOVAKIA 4-0
Tallon Griekspoor (NED) d. Lukas Klein (SVK) 7-6(6) 2-6 6-4
Tim Van Rijthoven (NED) d. Alex Molcan (SVK) 7-6(6) 5-7 6-3
Wesley Koolhof/Matwe Middelkoop (NED) d. Lukas Klein/Alex Molcan (SVK) 6-3 6-3
Matwe Middelkoop (NED) d. Jozef Kovalik (SVK) 6-4 6-4

FINLAND defeated ARGENTINA 3-1
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) d. Pedro Cachin (ARG) 7-5 6-3
Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) d. Otto Virtanen (FIN) 6-3 3-6 7-6(3)
Harri Heliovaara/Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) d. Maximo Gonzalez/Andres Molteni (ARG) 7-6(5) 4-6 6-4
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) d. Facundo Bagnis (ARG) 7-5 6-1

CZECH REPUBLIC defeated PORTUGAL 3-1
Jiri Lehecka (CZE) d. Nuno Borges (POR) 6-4 6-4
Tomas Machac (CZE) d. Joao Sousa (POR) 7-6(6) 3-6 6-2
Nuno Borges/Francisco Cabral (POR) d. Tomas Machac/Adam Pavlasek (CZE) 7-5 7-6(4)
Joao Sousa (POR) v Jiri Lehecka (CZE) 6-4 6-1

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Alycia Parks Stuns Garcia To Win First Tour Title In Lyon

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Image via WTA Twitter

Rising star Alycia Parks is on the verge of breaking into the world’s top 50 for the first time after stunning world No.4 Caroline Garcia in straight sets to win the Lyon Open. 

 

22-year-old Parks, who contested just three WTA main draws last year, battled to a 7-6(7), 7-5, win over Garcia who is the first top-five player she has beaten on the Tour. Throughout the final, the American didn’t drop serve after saving all four break points she faced. In total, she produced 28 winners with 15 of those being aces. It is only the second time she has beaten a top 10 player on the Tour after Maria Sakkari at the Ostrava Open last year. 

“I want to thank you for all coming out, this title means a lot to me,” Parks said afterwards. “France has a special part in my heart right now. I want to congratulate Garcia, you had an amazing week, keep playing how you’re playing.”

The victory caps off what has been a breakthrough week for Parks who dropped two sets in five matches played which was in her opening two rounds. Earlier in the tournament, she also defeated seventh seed Danka Kovinic and fourth seed Petra Martic to become only the third unseeded player to win a WTA event so far this year.  

Parks was ranked 199th in the world 12 months ago but has climbed up the rankings and is now set to break into the world’s top 70 for the first time on Monday. Towards the end of last year, she won back-to-back WTA 125 tournaments and has now won 16 out of her last 17 matches played. Her only loss was to Czech teenager Sara Bejlek in the second round of qualifying at the Australian Open.

As for Garcia, Sunday’s clash was the first time she had contested a WTA final in her home city of Lyon. Coming into her clash with Parks, she had won 10 out of her last 11 finals played on the Tour. It is the 40th time in her career she has lost to an American player in a WTA main draw.

Congrats on an amazing week and the (past) couple of months have been unbelievable (for you),” said Garcia. “It’s your first WTA title today and it was well deserved. You played amazing and if you keep playing like this you are for sure going to keep going up (the rankings).”

Parks, who graduated from High School in 2019, is coached on the Tour by her father Michael who has been her main mentor since childhood. 

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