US teen hands Casper Ruud awakening

RANKED 229th in the world coming in as a wildcard to the event, not many would have given 19-year-old United States representative Ben Shelton a chance against world number five Casper Ruud. Though Shelton had upset Italian Lorenzo Sonego in the first round of Cincinnati, it was just his second main draw ATP Tour win. His first came a couple of weeks earlier when he defeated Indian Ramkumar Ramanathan in Atlanta. But his most impressive by far was his straight sets dominating of Ruud, winning 6-3 6-3 and leaving the home crowd amazed.

A powerful player, Shelton stands at 193cm and took it right up to his compatriot John Isner in Atlanta, losing in a third set tiebreak in that match. It never got near a tiebreaker for Shelton against Ruud, who was unbreakable, winning 85 and 78 per cent of his first and second serve points. He only dropped eight points on serve for the match, two of which were double faults.

The most remarkable aspect of the 6-3 6-3 triumph over Ruud in 68 minutes was the fact that the Norwegian did not play badly at all, serving well, but was broken three times, twice in the second set. In that set, Shelton only dropped two points on serve and went at 100 per cent of his first serve.

When asked post-match if it felt real defeating the world number five having played College tennis prior to the last couple of weeks, Shelton answered “no” with a laugh.

“I think you’ve got to fake it till you make it, right? If I’m not feeling completely comfortable at the beginning, I’m going to do my best to show that I am until I find myself in a place where I am settled in,” he said.

“Once I got into the second set today, I wasn’t hardly even thinking about it. I was just trying to play my game and execute my game plan. I’m finding it an easier time the more I’m in these situations, getting my heart rate down and feeling more calm on the court.”

Shelton has already moved up 58 spots in the world to 171, and has British ninth seed Cameron Norrie up next. A very different prospect to Ruud, if Shelton was able to hit the flat-hitting, but more conservative Norrie, the American would move up into the Top 150. An unlikely quarter finals win potentially third seed Carlos Alcaraz would gift him a Top 100 spot.

As it might suggest, tennis, like life, comes at you quickly. For now, Shelton is one of four local hopes remaining in the draw, with Isner taking on wildcard Sebastian Korda – who already took out a compatriot in Frances Tiafoe – while 11th seed Taylor Fritz takes on sixth seed Andrey Rublev.

In other results, Croatian talent Borna Coric had the biggest win since he has returned from injury, stunning second seed Rafael Nadal in the National Bank Open. Coric advanced through to take on 15th seed Roberto Bautista Agut, while Canadian Denis Shapovalov was the other unseeded player through to the Round of 16. He now takes on top seed Daniil Medvedev, with Norrie taking out compatriot Andy Murray to face Shelton in the last 16. Fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime and 10th seed Jannik Sinner were the others to advance through to the third round.

In the women’s singles draw at Cincinnati, reigning US Open winner Emma Raducanu appears to have hit form in time to defend her title, knocking over fellow Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka 6-0 6-2 in stunning fashion. Raducanu has reached the Round of 16 only dropping six games after dispatching Serena Williams in her opening match. Next up for the teenage Brit is local hope Jessica Pegula who won through in three sets over Ukrainian qualifier Marta Kostyuk.

The top seven seeds in action largely made it through in the day session, with Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka and Ons Jabeur all winning. Garbine Muguruza fell to Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in straight sets, while Simona Halep withdrew pre-match, and Madison Keys took care of 16th seed Jelena Ostapenko.

It was a mixed bag for the Czechs as Petra Kvitova booked a place in the Round of 16, but her higher ranked compatriot in Karolina Pliskova fell to Belgian Elise Mertens. Veronika Kudermetova, Alison Riske-Amritraj and Shuai Zhang stamped their Round of 16 tickets earlier in the day, but the night session caused the biggest upset. Dropping the first set in a tiebreaker, Australian Ajla Tomljanovic stormed to victory against third seed Spaniard Paula Badosa, bagelling her in the second set and eventually winning, 6-7 6-0 6-2.


Cincinnati – ATP 1000 | Hard

Round of 32:

[PR] Borna Coric (CRO) defeated [2] Rafael Nadal (ESP) 7-6 4-6 6-3
[4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 6-3 6-4
[WC] Ben Shelton (USA) defeated [5] Casper Ruud (NOR) 6-3 6-3
[6] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [LL] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-7 7-6 6-2
[7] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated Alex de Minaur (AUS) 6-3 6-2
John Isner (USA) defeated [8] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 7-6 6-7 6-2
[9] Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated Andy Murray (GBR) 3-6 6-3 6-3
[10] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 7-5 3-1 RET
[11] Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Nick Kyrgios (AUS) 6-3 6-2
[15] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [Q] Marcos Giron (USA) 6-3 6-3
Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 3-6 6-4 6-3
[WC] Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 4-6 6-1 6-4

Cincinnati – WTA 1000 | Hard

Round of 32:

[1] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated [WC] Sloane Stephens (USA) 6-4 7-5
[Q] Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated [3] Paula Badosa (ESP) 6-7 6-0 6-2
[5] Ons Jabeur (TUN) defeated [WC] Catherine McNally (USA) 6-3 4-6 7-6
[6] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated [Q] Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) 6-3 4-1 RET
[7] Jessica Pegula (USA) defeated [Q] Marta Kostyuk (UKR) 6-7 6-1 6-2
Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated [8] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 6-3 6-1
[10] Emma Raducanu (GBR) defeated Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 6-0 6-2
Elise Mertens (BEL) defeated [14] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 7-6 6-3
Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) defeated [15] Simona Halep (ROU) W/O
Madison Keys (USA) defeated [16] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 6-4 7-5
Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 6-2 6-3
Alison Riske-Amritraj (USA) defeated [Q] Marie Bouzkova (CZE) W/O
Shuai Zhang (CHN) defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 6-3 6-4

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