Ben Shelton, a promising American player, claimed his inaugural ATP Tour championship on Sunday by defeating Russian opponent Aslan Karatsev 7-5, 6-1 in the Japan Open finals.
Shelton became a professional in August of last year, however, he achieved the quarter-finals in the Australian Open in January and the semi-finals in the US Open last month.
The 21-year-old fought his way to the Tokyo final after playing multiple three-set matches. However, he quickly defeated the 50th ranked player Karatsev in just over 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Shelton expressed how much it meant to him and his team. They have put in a lot of effort from the start to improve his game and achieve success on the ATP Tour. Recently, he has made it far in tournaments. He recognizes that true champions are able to consistently perform at a high level throughout the entire week, not just in the finals.
I have not yet reached this level, but being able to achieve it for one week and win five consecutive matches in Tokyo is truly remarkable.
Shelton took the first set by breaking his opponent and securing a 6-5 lead, followed by successfully holding his serve in the subsequent game.
Karatsev had difficulty regaining his calmness in the following set and angrily broke his racquet when he started making mistakes that were not caused by his opponent.
Karatsev made an error on match point, resulting in Shelton winning the match.
The American runner expressed his joy by sprinting towards his team and embracing his father, Bryan, who also serves as his coach.
Karatsev advanced to the final by winning all of his matches in straight sets, defeating fourth-seeded Alex de Minaur and sixth-seeded Frances Tiafoe along the way.
The University of Florida alum also defeated Karatsev at the US Open.
Shelton, who was ranked 96th in the world at the start of the season, will reach a new career peak of 15th place in the upcoming rankings. This significant rise is due to his unexpected successes in reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows.