Steely Shelton Sets Ruud Clash In Barcelona

Zapata Miralles, Ruusuvuori also advance at ATP 500
April 17, 2023
Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell
Ben Shelton prevails in his maiden ATP Head2Head meeting with Mackenzie McDonald on Monday in Barcelona. By ATP Staff

Ben Shelton continued his impressive start to his career on red clay on Monday at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, where he downed fellow American Mackenzie McDonald 7-5, 6-4 to reach the second round at the ATP 500.

The #NextGenATP American, who only competed on red clay for the first time in his life in Estoril two weeks ago, converted five of his six break points to clinch a 99-minute win against the World No. 54 McDonald. His kick serve and huge forehand were particularly instrumental as he won four games in a row from 2-4 in the second set to claim victory.

“I thought that this was definitely a good start to the tournament for me,” the 20-year-old Shelton told “I think that I did some things well, some things I could have done better, and over the next couple of days I’m going to hope to improve on those things and sharpen my game.

“I’m happy with the way that I competed today, and obviously playing on a clay court, things are going to happen. There’s a little more back and forth and things can get tricky, so I’m happy with how tough I was mentally today and my competitive spirit.”

Shelton next faces third seed Casper Ruud in Barcelona. Last August, when he was still a relatively unknown No. 299-ranked college player, the American stunned Ruud in straight sets on the hard courts of Cincinnati. This time around, Shelton knows he will have to find a path to victory without the element of surprise against the Norwegian, who is a nine-time ATP Tour titlist on clay.

“Different surface, different circumstances,” said Shelton, currently at a career-high No. 37 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. “I don’t think he had any idea who I was the last time I played him, and I know he knows me now. I assume that he’ll be more prepared for some of my things I’m going to throw at him and I’m really excited for that matchup.”

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Also on Monday, Bernabe Zapata Miralles gave the home fans something to cheer in the opening match on Pista Rafa Nadal. The 26-year-old Spaniard defeated Attila Balazs 6-2, 6-2 to improve to 10-9 for the season and set an all-Spanish second-round meeting with 13th seed Roberto Bautista Agut.

Pablo Andujar was unable to join his countrymen in the second round. Tomas Martin Etcheverry defeated the 2015 finalist 6-2, 7-5 on his Barcelona debut to advance to a second-round meeting with Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Nuno Borges also prevailed in straight sets against Ilya Ivashka. The World No. 79’s 6-2, 6-3 triumph earned him a Tuesday clash against top seed and defending champion Carlos Alcaraz.

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Emil Ruusuvuori enjoyed a comfortable opening win at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona-1899. The Finn dispatched Alexander Bublik 6-0, 6-3 in just 56 minutes to prevail against the Kazakh in Barcelona for the second time in as many years. Ruusuvuori’s next opponent will be fifth seed Frances Tiafoe. Nicolas Jarry, a titlist on clay already this year in Santiago, beat Marco Trungelliti 7-5, 6-3.

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