Shelton beats Karatsev for breakthrough tour title at Japan Open

TOKYO (AP) — Ben Shelton secures his first-ever tour victory after defeating Aslan Karatsev 7-5, 6-1 at the highly anticipated Japan Open on Sunday.

The 21-year-old American, who recently reached the semifinals at the U.S. Open, showcased his exceptional skills in Tokyo, registering 18 winners while dominating his Russian opponent with his powerful left-handed serve. In just 84 minutes, Shelton sealed the final and expressed his gratitude, stating, “This win means the world to me and my team. We’ve worked tirelessly from day one to develop my game and achieve success in the ATP tour. I’ve had some remarkable performances lately, but true champions don’t settle for just reaching the finals. They consistently display a high level of play throughout the entire week. I might not be there yet, but being able to maintain my performance for one week and string together five consecutive victories in Tokyo is truly special.”

Following his victory, Shelton’s ranking will soar to a career-best No. 15 in the ATP standings on Monday, a remarkable ascent considering he began the season ranked at No. 96.

Throughout his breakthrough season, the American talent showcased his potential by reaching the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and becoming the youngest American man to advance to the semifinals at Flushing Meadows since Michael Chang accomplished the feat in 1992. Furthermore, Shelton achieved quarterfinal success at the Shanghai Masters last week.

On the other hand, the 30-year-old Karatsev was eying his fourth title and first since his triumph over Andy Murray in Sydney in 2022. However, Karatsev struggled to find his rhythm during the match, committing 20 unforced errors and failing to challenge Shelton.


AP tennis:


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