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UPDATE: BOTTOM OF THE PAGE
QUARTER-FINAL – SHELTON DEF. TIAFOE 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-2
Ben Shelton has blasted his way to the quarter-finals of the 2023 US Open and plays Frances Tiafoe tonight on Arthur Ashe. The 20-year-old is the youngest American player to reach the quarters since Andy Roddick in 2002.
What is the foundation of Shelton’s game?
First. Strike. Tennis.
Shelton hits you first. He is the first to throw a punch and the first to draw blood. This can be measured by the length of the rallies that he is playing and how much is winning in short, medium, and long rallies.
To the quarters, the average amount of points for all players in the tournament in the 0-4 shot rally length is 68%. Shelton is smashing that tally with 77% of points played in 0-4 shots. It’s a massive number of short points where each player only hits a maximum of two shots in a row in the court.
Shelton has the firepower to own First Strike. He has clocked the fastest serve at the tournament this year at a stunning 149 mph (239.7 km/h). It’s a blur. He has the most aces with 62, while only committing 18 double faults.
Unreturned 1st Serves (Tournament Average = 37%)
- Shelton Unreturned 1st Serves = 48% (112/235)
Unreturned 2nd Serves (Tournament Average = 17%)
- Shelton Unreturned 2nd Serves = 27% (24/90)
1st Serves In (Tournament Average = 61%)
- Shelton 1st Serves In = 69% (235/343)
As you can clearly see from the serve numbers above, simply getting his serve back in play is extremely difficult. And he is tied for 11th best in making his first serve at 69%. That’s well above the tournament average of 61%.
Learn The World’s Best Serve Patterns.
Webinar 3: Serve Strategy & Patterns
RALLY LENGTH WON
The table above explains a lot about Shelton’s powerful game.
0-4 Shots: He has won 66 more points than he lost in his four matches so far – three of which went four sets. Short rallies are where he creates his separation against opponents.
5-8 Shots: He is holding his own here, winning exactly the same amount of points (57) as he has lost. This is a good metric for him, as he is playing even in some longer rallies that may not be his strong suit.
9+ Shots: Ben has lost only nine more points than he has won (16-25) in longer exchanges of 9+ Shots. The most important aspect to consider is that represents only 6% of his total points, so who cares if he is falling behind here by just a little bit? Not me!
AVERAGE RALLY LENGTH
The average rally length is just over three shots. Here’s the breakdown from his four matches.
Average Rally Length
- 3.21 shots vs. P. Cachin
- 3.73 shots vs. D. Thiem (only one set completed)
- 2.62 shots vs. A.Karatsev
- 3.23 shots vs. T. Paul
- Average = 3.12 shots
Swing first. Ask questions later.
GROUNDIES & NET
Ben is coming forward a lot in his matches. One reason is that his powerful groundstrokes from the back of the court are providing a lot of short balls to get in behind to finish off the point. The other reason is that Ben is hunting short balls to attack, as his win percentage from the front of the court is vastly superior than from the back.
- Serve & Volley Points Won = 69% (29/42)
- Net Points Won = 67% (85/127)
- Baseline Points Won = 44% (131/297)
From the back of the court, it’s the forehand that is undoubtedly the star of the show.
- 35 winners
- 110 errors
- Don’t worry about the errors. Tennis is a sport of errors. In fact, 70% of all points end in an error. The firepower is there.
- 6 winners
- 86 errors
- Becoming more “solid” on this side is key to his improvement. Opponents are going to want to stay away from the powerful forehand. The backhand is going to see some traffic, so it’s important to make a ton of balls here rather than the backhand masquerading as an offensive juggernaut like the forehand.
Greatly looking forward to tonight’s match against Frances Tiafoe. Have a great match, gentlemen!
Ben Shelton def. Frances Tiafoe 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-2
Twenty-year-old Ben Shelton is through to his first Grand Slam semi-final with a gutsy four-set victory over Frances Tiafoe.
How did he do it? First strike tennis of course!
Let’s examine the same data points that we covered to the quarter-finals.
Tournament Average Rally Length To Semi-Finals
- 0-4 Shots = 68%
- 5-8 Shots = 21%
- 9+ Shots = 11%
Shelton and Tiafoe were above the tournament average for “first strike” tennis in the 0-4 rally length, playing 71% of all points there. This is true to form for the attacking style that got Shelton to the quarters.
Where did Shelton create his advantage? Only in the 0-4 shot rally length.
The ONLY rally length that Shelton was able to craft an advantage was in the 0-4 rally length, winning a sizeable 16 more points than Tiafoe. The rest was all dead-even.
Grounstrokes & Net Play
Shelton cracked 50 winners for the match, which was considerably more than Tiafoe’s 33. Shelton simply had too much firepower.
- Shelton = 19 winners / 26 errors
- Tiafoe = 9 winners / 31 errors
- Shelton crushed 10 more winners and committed five less errors. His forehand was the big stick on the court.
- Shelton = 6 winners / 32 errors
- Tiafoe = 7 winners / 31 errors
- This played out very evenly.
Serve & Volley
- Shelton = Won 5/5
- Tiafoe = Won 1/2
- Just enough to win the guessing game of “Is he coming in now or not?”
- Shelton = Won 58% (21/36)
- Tiafoe = Won 53% (20/38)
- Shelton was a little more productive at the net.
- Shelton = Won 58% (61/106)
- Tiafoe = Won 39% (39/100)
- This is a big difference. And these are not extended rallies. They are much more decided with Serve +1 and Return +1 exchanges.
The only blemish on Shelton’s stats sheet was 11 double faults. He served back-to-back double faults holding set points in the third set breaker. He was lucky to get out of that jam.
Overall, Shelton played a magnificent match with the right attacking strategy. It’s the kind of game style that can take the racket out of the opponent’s hands.