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Shelton's Sensational Surge Into The Top 15

American reflects on ascent from outside Top 150 to Top 15
October 24, 2023
Ben Shelton won the Tokyo title to climb to a career-high No. 15 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
Koji Watanabe/Getty Images
Ben Shelton won the Tokyo title to climb to a career-high No. 15 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. By ATP Staff

One year ago, Ben Shelton was No. 158 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and competing in a stretch of ATP Challenger Tour events. At the time, the American had earned just three tour-level wins and was embarking on his life as a professional tennis player.

Little did the lefty know that one year later, he would be No. 15 in the world and competing with the biggest stars on the ATP Tour every week.

“I think that’s the craziest thing to think about, how far I’ve come,” Shelton told ATPTour.com. “But it’s interesting that a lot of guys who where in a similar position to me last year, like Chris Eubanks or Aleks Vukic, have kind of had the same trajectory.

“They’re Top 50 now, so to be playing Challengers with all those guys last year and now we are at the point where we are playing a full ATP schedule, it’s something really cool that we share.” 

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Shelton is 26-22 this season and has consistently risen to the occasion on the biggest stages. He reached the semi-finals of the US Open, the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and last week at the ATP 500 in Tokyo claimed his first tour-level title.

Two years ago Shelton was outside the world’s Top 700, a year ago he had not yet cracked the Top 150, and now he is charging towards the Top 10.

“It’s definitely not sunk in yet,” Shelton told ATPTour.com. “I think that when my season is over, I’ll have some time to think about everything that’s happened this year and kind of reflect on it. I’m just really enjoying the moment right now.” 

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Entering the end of the season, there was potential pressure for Shelton with the 240 points he earned in a three-week span last year, when he triumphed at Challengers in Charlottesville, Knoxville and Champaign. But by claiming 500 points in a single week in Tokyo, Shelton has put those worries behind him.

The American has made the biggest climb over the past 12 months of any player in the Top 20, ascending 143 spots. The only player who is close to him is World No. 20 Nicolas Jarry, who was No. 116 one year ago this week.

Shelton will try to continue his rise this week at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, where he will play second seed Jannik Sinner in the first round.

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