US Open semi-finalist Ben Shelton has weighed in on tennis’ GOAT debate, admitting his favourite player in history is Roger Federer, rather than Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal. The 21-year-old also spoke about the impact his father, Bryan, had on his career.
Shelton was asked to weigh in on the age old debate regarding who is the better player of the big three: Rafael Nadal, Rodger Federer and Novak Djokovic. “I studied Nadal and tried to steal some secrets from him,” Shelton revealed.
“But my favourite has always been Roger. Novak Djokovic? In three years he will still be a top 5, he will still win tournaments.”
Shelton also revealed his admiration for his father during an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport. Shelton Sr. enjoyed an eight-year spell as a professional tennis player, where he managed to reach the ranking of World No. 55 at the height of his career in March 1992.
During his career he won two ATP singles titles and two ATP doubles titles before become a coach. The 57-year-old has since stepped down from his role as the head coach of the Florida Gators men’s tennis team and has decided to coach his son.
The news was revealed via an Instagram post from Ben, who said: “The dream team is back together baby‼️ Can’t wait to have you out on tour with me, and see what we can accomplish together.” After Ben’s admission, he revealed that he also looked up to another American icon. “If I have to go beyond the family circle, then I say Andy Roddick,” Shelton said.
It’s no surprise that the young American also chose Roddick as his favourite player given the tennis legend’s professional record. In a career spanning over 12 years, Roddick reached three Wimbledon finals and won the US Open in 2003 – where he earned the rank of World No. 1.
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Shelton’s comments came ahead of his round of 32 tie against Italy’s Jannik Sinner at the Vienna Open. The American managed to take his World No. 4 opponent to a tie-break in the first set before losing 6-7 (2-7) and 5-7 in the second set.
The game was a rematch of the pair’s tie earlier in the month at the Shanghai Open. Shelton won their previous encounter 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), but was knocked out in the quarter-finals to fellow American Sebastian Korda.
The American also spoke about Sinner in the interview, adding: “He is only a year older than me and has achieved a lot. He leads a fantastic generation of young Italians and is among the top 5 of the next few years.”
Following his defeat, Sinner was full of praise for his opponent. “It was a very tough match,” he said. “He always serves really well, and today was obviously the same. He is confident, he is a very tough player to beat. I was looking forward to it. I lost the last matchup, so I’m happy that I won this one. I’m already looking forward to the next one.
“I wish him the best for the rest of the season, I think he will finish the season strong. I’m very happy about the performance and happy to be in the next round.”
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