Ben Shelton Beats Tiafoe To Win Houston, Rises to Career-High No.14 in Rankings - UBITENNIS
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Ben Shelton Beats Tiafoe To Win Houston, Rises to Career-High No.14 in Rankings

The American becomes the youngest US clay court champion for over 20 years



Ben Shelton - Indian Wells 2024 (foto X @BNPPARIBASOPEN)

Ben Shelton beat close friend and countryman Frances Tiafoe in three tight sets 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 to win the U.S Men’s Clay Court Championships for the first time – and is now aiming to crack the top 10 and also become America’s highest ranked player. 

Having won his first ATP title last year in Tokyo, the 21-year-old has now risen to a new career high of 14 by winning this ATP 250 event, and is the second best American behind Taylor Fritz who is only one spot ahead. 

This was the second encounter between two hard-hitting baseliners with huge serves. Shelton also won their thrilling US Open quarter final last year in four close sets. The match was played in wonderful spirits, with the two exuberant and stylish players regularly engaging the crowd after some lengthy exchanges and hard-fought rallies. 

“The clay is really starting to grow on me,” said Shelton. “Clay is all about movement and patience. I have a high-bouncing serve, heavy forehand, and like to think I’m pretty athletic. I come forward to finish points at net quite a bit and you need those finishing net skills in clay because it’s tougher to win points from the baseline. Though I’m less experienced in terms of matches, I feel my game is well-suited for clay because I like having more time with the ball sitting up higher. It just takes time to develop.”

In one particular sequence at the start of the second set, Shelton hit the net cord with a forehand cross-court forcing Tiafoe in. His sliding drop shot then forced Shelton to slide in, and his attempted lob was inches away from being a winner – until Tiafoe managed to stretch high up above his head and get the ball back in to win the point. Shelton spun around looking stunned while Tiafoe fist-pumped and took in the crowd’s applause. 

Play went with serve throughout an entertaining first set featuring lovely rallies mixed with frequent volleys and angled winners. Tiafoe saved a setpoint when serving at 4-5 down and forced the hold to 5-5. After Shelton held, Tiafoe double faulted at 30-30 to again gift Shelton a setpoint. Tiafoe hooked a forehand wide to hand his 21-year-old opponent a one-set lead. In truth it was a poor game: he had thrown in three unforced errors from 30-15 up. 

Tiafoe struck back in the second set by breaking early for a 2-1 lead and then holding serve more easily. He took the set after a powerful double-handed cross court backhand which Shelton could not retrieve and the match was all square. 

With the match now into a decider, this time it was Shelton who broke serve early for a 3-1 lead, and he soon went on to serve out to love with his big lefty serve out wide followed by a wrong-footing, forehand drive-volley winner. 

Eleven aces and a huge 83% of first-serve points won helped the 6’4” Atlanta native to close out the match after two hours and fifteen minutes. Shelton, who’s dad Bryan once reached as high as 55 in the men’s rankings, was very gracious in his post-match victory speech, paying tribute to Tiafoe’s challenging journey into the sport.  

“You’ve been such an inspiration to kids, people of colour in our sport, just an amazing representation,” Shelton said. “You’ve been that guy to always put on for us and always be selfless, thinking about others, kids younger than you. So, thanks for everything that you do for our sport and people who look like you and me.”  


Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two



Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket



The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.


Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.


Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.


Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at 

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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open



Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

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