© Mike Lawrence/ATP Tour

Ben Shelton upsets Casper Ruud without facing a break point in the Cincinnati second round.

Shelton Shocker! Wild Card Makes Quick Work Of Ruud To Extend Dream Debut

Reigning NCAA singles champion is making his ATP Masters 1000 debut

Ben Shelton only just completed his sophomore year at the University of Florida, but the 19-year-old American appears ready to graduate onto the ATP Tour.

The Western & Southern Open wild card continued his dream ATP Masters 1000 debut on Wednesday with a dominant 6-3, 6-3 win against fifth seed Casper Ruud, one day after edging Lorenzo Sonego in three sets. Shelton needed just one hour, eight minutes to secure his first Top 10 win and advance to the third round, where he will face ninth seed and fellow lefty Cameron Norrie.

So does it feel normal yet for the rising star to be across the net from the Tour's best?

"No," he said with a smile in his post-match press conference. "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.

"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."

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After winning the final two games of his opening-round victory, Shelton won the first two games of both sets against Ruud. Those early breaks were more than enough as the American did not face a break point on serve.

Shelton dropped just eight points on serve, winning 85 per cent (22/26) of his first-serve points and 78 per cent (14/18) on his second delivery. He was also ruthlessly efficient on return, breaking in all three games in which he created a break point, including a three-deuce battle in his first return game.

As he closed in on his third break of the match in its final game, Shelton turned on the style with a tweener lob, leaving Ruud stunned at net, three points from defeat.

Shelton is coached by his father and Florida men's tennis head coach Bryan Shelton, who reached a career-high of World No. 55 in his playing career. With his win over the World No. 5, the younger Shelton has already accomplished something his father could not: reaching the third round in Cincinnati. 

"I know that he has two Top 5 wins and I only have one. He's got me in that category," Shelton said of their light-hearted family rivalry. "But, yeah, it's fun to talk about. It's cool that I have a former pro who's my dad to look up to when I'm going through these things."


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Ranked World No. 547 in May when he won the NCAA singles title, Shelton now sits at No. 171 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings and could move as high as No. 136 with a victory against Norrie. The Briton was a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 winner against countryman Andy Murray earlier on Wednesday.

Ruud, who reached the Roland Garros final in June, has enjoyed great results at the hard-court Masters 1000s this season, reaching the final in Miami (l. to Alcaraz) and the semis last week in Montreal (l. to Hurkacz).

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