Rapidly rising American tennis talent to return to ASB Classic in Auckland
Bright young American star, Ben Shelton, given a wildcard entry to the ASB Classic this year in one of his first ATP tournaments outside USA, will return to Auckland in January having climbed inside the world’s top 20 players.
The powerful left-hander turned heads at the ASB Arena earlier this year, and has continued to do so around the globe as arguably the most improved player among the ATP Tour’s top ranked players, having risen from No 96 in January.
Shelton, who made it to the last 16 in Auckland, went on to become the youngest American in 40 years to reach the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, losing to compatriot Tommy Paul.
The highlights continued throughout the year, making the round of 16 at Queens that led to a remarkable performance at the US Open where he reached the semifinals, losing to World No 1 Novak Djokovic after victories over fellow Americans Paul (world #12) and Frances Tiafoe (world #14) and Austrian Dominic Thiem.
Shelton went on to win the Laver Cup with Team World before his breakthrough ATP Tour tournament victory at the Tokyo Open in straight sets over Aslan Karatsev in the final.
The American is looking forward to returning to the ASB Classic.
“Auckland was my first win of the year on the ATP Tour. To start things off the right way in a place I really enjoyed was important to my success that followed at the Australian Open and for the rest of the year,” said Shelton.
“The ASB Classic was one of my first tournaments that I played in outside of the US and I learned a lot and enjoyed the experience.
“Next year I am hoping to venture out a little bit more, and see more of this beautiful city and experience a few sights - maybe take the ferry to visit the black sand beach."
The American said his season has been beyond dreams, especially at home in the US Open.
“Playing in front of a huge crowd at Arthur Ashe was definitely a bucket-list experience for me, something I dreamed about and definitely something I looked forward to.”
ASB Classic Tournament Director, Nicolas Lamperin said the tournament is thrilled to have Shelton returning.
“He is the type of player that we target. We saw him as a hugely promising teenager who would benefit from playing at our tournament, and that Auckland is a great place for a young player in his first time travelling outside of USA.
“Shelton impressed us all at the ASB Classic both on and off the court, and we knew that he had star qualities and he has already gone on to prove it.
“We are so pleased that he enjoyed his time in Auckland and I am sure there will be a great many fans flocking to see this very exciting young player in action.”
Lamperin said he was finalising his last few invites that will be confirmed in the next month ahead of the final field announcements in early December for the WTA women’s event from 1-7 January and the ATP men’s tournament from January 8-13.
Tickets sales have been strong for both weeks, with tickets available at www.asbclassic.co.nz
Photo: Ben Shelton celebrates in front of home-country fans at the US Open. (Credit: ATP-Getty Images).