G’day from Melbourne! 🇦🇺🐨
Twenty-year-old Ben Shelton has emerged as the sensation of the 2023 Australian Open. He has navigated his way to the tournament’s quarter-finals, where he takes on fellow American Tommy Paul this afternoon at 2.30 pm. Here are his results to the quarters.
- Rd 1 def. Z Zhang 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(4)
- Rd 2 def. N. Jarry 7-6(3), 7-6(3), 7-5
- Rd 3 def. A. Popyrin 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-4
- Rd 4 def. J.J. Wolf 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-2
Several elements of his game are simply spectacular. Here’s a snapshot of 10 match metrics highlighting what makes Shelton so good.
1: Fastest Serve Of The Tournament = 141.7 mph (228 km/h)
Shelton owns the fastest serve of the tournament, which was a 141.7 mph (228km/h) bomb he hit in the opening round. Shelton’s service motion drips of power. The lefty initially leans forward and then rocks back onto his back foot to build power and momentum. He then slides his back foot up and gets into a deep knee bend before launching himself up into contact. There is a tremendous use of the legs, and it certainly appears he is driving up into contact much more than other players.
Here’s a serve speed comparison from his Rd4 victory over JJ Wolf.
Fastest 1st Serve
- Shelton = 226 km/h
- Wolf = 216 km/h
Average 1st Serve Speed
- Shelton = 196 km/h
- Wolf = 181 km/h
Fastest 2nd Serve
- Shelton = 189 km/h
- Wolf = 173 km/h
Average 2nd Serve Speed
- Shelton = 168 km/h
- Wolf = 152 km/h
Shelton has hit 61 aces so far for the tournament while only committing 18 double faults. His serve is incredibly impressive.
2. Service Games Won = 95% (Tournament Average = 81%)
Shelton has served 84 times to the quarter-finals, winning 80 of them. That’s good for 95.2%, which leads the tournament in Service Games Won. His ability to stay in matches just with his serve alone means he is going to be so tough to beat against any opponent.
3. Break Points Saved = 11/15
Of the six players left in the tournament, Shelton and Djokovic lead the pack with the lowest number of break points faced. Here’s the list.
Break Points On Serve (remaining six players)
- Djokovic = 12
- Shelton = 15
- Paul = 27
- Rublev = 32
- Khachanov = 33
- Tsitsipas = 49
As you can clearly see, Djokovic and Shelton are in a class of their own in not letting opponents get to break points on serve.
4: Unreturned 1st Serves = 49% (Tournament Average = 37%)
Shelton is tied in 12th place in this category, with 151 of 308 first serves not coming back into play. Of the six remaining players in the tournament, he is the leader
Unreturned 1st Serves
- Shelton = 49%
- Paul = 46%
- Khachanov = 46%
- Rublev = 44%
- Tsitsipas = 42%
- Djokovic = 39%
5: Unreturned 2nd Serves = 28% (Tournament Average = 17%)
Shelton is tied for 7th overall with the highest percentage of unreturned 2nd serves. His first serve is big. His second serve is big as well and helps him keep points short when serving. He is the best of the remaining six players in the tournament.
Unreturned 2nd Serves
- Shelton = 28%
- Tsitsipas = 25%
- Paul = 19%
- Djokovic = 17%
- Rublev = 15%
- Khachanov = 12%
6: 2nd Serve Points Won = 65% (Tournament Average = 51%)
This outrageous stat is helping propel him deep into the second week. Typically, if you can win half of your second serve points, that’s generally a success. The tournament average at the moment is 50.6% (5113/10098). Shelton is wayyyy above that at 65% (123/189). Here’s how he has performed so far in the tournament.
2nd Serve Points Won
- Rd 1 = 58%
- Rd 2 = 70%
- Rd 3 = 66%
- Rd 4 = 69%
7: Average Rally Length = 3.25 shots
Shelton loves to play “first strike” tennis. He thrives on it, and it gives his opponents no rhythm to wear him down or expose a potential weakness. Here’s the average rally length of the six players left in the tournament.
Average Rally Length
- Shelton = 3.25 shots
- Tsitsipas = 3.68 shots
- Rublev = 3.78 shots
- Khachanov = 4.71 shots
- Paul = 5.02 shots
- Djokovic = 5.03 shots
8: Shelton = 67 Forehand Winners
Shelton’s forehand is his dominant shot from the back of the court. Here is his performance to the quarter-finals.
- 67 winners
- 148 errors
- 19 winners
- 121 errors
Being a lefty adds another offensive dimension to his ground game. He loves to take big cuts at the ball and can blast winners from anywhere on the court.
9: Serve & Volley = Won 76%
Shelton has served and volleyed 33 times so far in the tournament, winning a very healthy 25 of them. That is by far the most of the six players left in the draw.
Serve & Volley Points Played
- Shelton = 33 (won 25/33)
- Djokovic = 18 (won 14/18)
- Tsitsipas = 13 (won 10/13)
- Paul = 7 (won 4/7)
- Rublev = 4 (won 2/4)
- Khachanov = 3 (won 2/3)
Look for Shelton to mix in serve and volley against Paul. The reason why is to stop Paul from blocking/chipping/floating returns back slow and deep. If Paul has to also respect a possible serve and volley play, it will naturally create more return errors.
10: Baseline Points Won = 51% (263/516) – Tournament Average = 47%
With a huge serve and solid returns, Shelton would not be expected to have a high winning percentage from the baseline. But he actually does. Winning 51% of baseline points is a good number for him. He loves to take big cuts from the back of the court off both wings and lands enough heavy blows that opponents don’t want to drop anything short.
Baseline Points Won: Six Players Remaining
- Djokovic = 57%
- Khachanov = 52%
- Shelton = 51%
- Rublev = 51%
- Tsitsipas = 50%
- Paul = 46%
Shelton plays with a free spirit and without fear from the back of the court. He is going to play big against Paul and force as many errors as possible.
Ben Shelton is the youngest American in the Top 100. I think he is also the most exciting and possesses the most upside. I can’t wait to sit courtside today and watch him play Tommy Paul this afternoon on Rod Laver Arena.
Best of luck to both players!