Tokyo | Shelton claims his first title on tour

The 21-year-old Ben Shelton from Atlanta, Geogia, claimed his first title on the ATP Tour when he beat the Russian Aslan Karartsev in the final of the Kinoshita Group Japan Open Tennis Tournament, an ATP 500 level event in Tokyo, 7-5 6-1

I am looking forward to finishing the season strong Ben Shelton

Karatsev had not dropped a set in his pssage to the final, beating local wild card Shintaro Mochizuki in the semi-final after seeing off Australia’s Alex de Minaur in the quarters and China’s Zhang Zhizhen in the opening round.

Shelton’s run to the title round was a bit more demanding, recovering from a set down which included two tough tie-breaks in his semi-final encounter with fellow American Marcos Giron. having in the previous two rounds, dispatched two other of his countrymen, Marcus Giron and Tommy Paul in straight sets, after starting his campaign with a three-setter against Aussie Jordan Thompson.

In the final, Karatse began the stronger but Shelton defended well until the 11th game when he made the vital break which gave him the opportunity to serve out for the set which he duly did.

The second set seemed to be following the same pattern, but Shelton recovered from losing a break point to snatch the first break a few minutes later and go into a 2-1 lead which he extend to 4-1 after breaking the Russian for a second time.

By now Shelton was on a roll for he broke for a third time after holding to love, to secure the first title of his career and a boost in his ranking, raising it to a career high of 15.

Reflecting on his win and the US$340300 winner’s cheque, Shelton said: “That meant a lot to me and my team. We have been working really hard since the beginning to build my game and win titles on the ATP Tour.

“I made some deep runs lately. You see the great champions — they finish weeks off. They win titles, they don’t just get to finals. They are able to maintain their level throughout the week.

“I am not saying I am anywhere there yet, but to be able to do it for one week, put together five matches in a row in Tokyo is really special.”

He then added: “I am really looking forward to this tail-end stretch of the year. I think it is a great opportunity for me. Earlier in the season I was losing early in weeks, so my match count is not that high, so I am feeling fresh.

“I am looking forward to finishing the season strong.”

Ben Shelton nd Aslan Karatsev pose at the net prior to the final

(Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)



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