The crazy journey of an American player in Melbourne

The first stamp in his US passport, Ben Shelton, has been affixed in recent weeks. The 89th player in the world has never been out of the United States. Not even for a family vacation.

There have been some crazy stories since the inception of the Australian Open, but none quite match the story of 20-year-old Shelton, who will play on Tuesday night, or Tuesday night through Wednesday, the quarter-finals of the first major tournament of the season.

Next, who will move into the top 50 of the ATP rankings next Monday.

The American was, as he put it, an ordinary player as a teenager. Therefore, his father Brian, himself a former fifty-five in the world, saw no point in having him go abroad, where “he would lose, but he would learn the same things.” [qu’aux États-Unis]”.

Chilton attended a traditional public school, which made long absences problematic.

But there, the average gamer has come a long way in the past few years. He played on the NCAA, American college circuit, for the Florida Gators. He is still studying and taking some courses remotely in two weeks.

“When I flew [en décembre]“I didn’t have any expectations,” he admitted at a news conference, after beating compatriot JJ Wolf, 67H After a fight that ended 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4) and 6-2 on Monday.

“I knew it was going to be really difficult adjusting to Australia because of the exhaustion and jet lag. It was my first time abroad,” he said, “I knew it was going to be complicated.

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“I think it helped me having no expectations, no pressure to get good results. I could just be myself and play freely. I think that was a big part of my success.”

victory over Rod

Chilton was already able to give the other pros in the ring some clues about his talent last summer. The 6’4″ youngster made it to the third round of the Cincinnati Masters, where he was a guest for the organizers.

Image source: AFP

The American beat the world number 2, Norwegian Casper Ruud.

A few weeks later, Shilton tasted the glory of a major tournament in New York, losing a five-set scrimmage to Portugal’s Nuno Borges, then 104.H.

The American played two events in Oceania before the start of the Australian fortnight: the qualifiers in Adelaide, where he lost in the first round, and then two main matches in Auckland (lost in the second round).

He wants his testimony

Combined with jet lag and the nearly 9,500km that separated him for the first time from his home country, those last two results didn’t mean Chilton would have such an impressive outbreak in Melbourne.

After the third round victory over Australian Alexei Popyrin, 113H world, told the young player to pinch himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming.

But no, Shelton isn’t dreaming. The friendly young man is also somewhat down to earth. Because even if he beats compatriot Tommy Paul, 35Hin the quarters, and even if he wins the title next Sunday, he will still take his finance courses at the university.

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“I really want to graduate,” he noted.

“But this whole week is exceptional, smile. I feel really good.”

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