Shelton tames Paul to reach first US Open quarter-final

Nine of Ben Shelton's 16 tour-level wins this year have come at Grand Slams (TIMOTHY A. CLARY)
Nine of Ben Shelton's 16 tour-level wins this year have come at Grand Slams (TIMOTHY A. CLARY)

Unseeded American Ben Shelton took down 14th-seeded compatriot Tommy Paul in four sets on Sunday to reach his second Grand Slam quarter-final of the year at the US Open.

The 20-year-old Shelton avenged his loss to Paul in the last eight of the Australian Open, winning 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to become the youngest American to reach the men's quarter-finals in New York since Andy Roddick in 2002.

"Being at home here in front of an American crowd, I felt the love all week," said Shelton. "It's hard to believe that I'm playing on Arthur Ashe right now with the stands completely full."

The world number 47 plays 10th seed Frances Tiafoe for a place in the semi-finals.

"Frances as a player is electric. He's kind of been like a brother to me since I've been out here on tour," said Shelton.

"Just a great guy off the court. But on the court a nightmare to deal with. He does so many things well. One of them being engaging the crowd.

"He's just one of those guys where it's must-see TV. You want to watch him play all the time.

"He kind of has that Carlos Alcaraz effect, especially here in New York. This is his place where he really wants to show up."

Shelton arrived at his second US Open with a tour-level record of 12-20 this season, having failed to win multiple matches at any of the 18 events he had played since Melbourne.

Nine of his 16 victories in 2023 have now come at Grand Slams. Shelton reached the second round at Wimbledon after losing his opening match at the French Open.

He belted two serves clocked at 149 mph (240 km/h) -- the fastest of the tournament -- to open up a 4-1 lead in the third set against Paul but then lost five games on the spin.

Shelton, a former college champion who only turned professional last year, drew on the experience of his loss to Paul at the Australian Open to finally get over the line after two hours and 49 minutes.

"In Australia I definitely got punched in the mouth a few times. I definitely made the mistake of trying to rifle through him on every shot," said Shelton.

"He's one of the best defenders and counter-punchers and movers this tour has. Trying to beat him with pace all the time definitely isn't the answer."