Ben Shelton Survives Epic Battle with Bellucci at Wimbledon 2024

Ben Shelton proved his resilience and skill, winning a hard-fought match over the course of two demanding days on Court 18 in a nail-biting comeback against Mattia Bellucci at Wimbledon 2024.

Shelton overcame a difficult start in the match to win 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, demonstrating his tenacity and tactical flexibility.

Ben Shelton Survives Epic Battle with Bellucci at Wimbledon 2024
Shelton has triumphed in four of his first ten tour-level grass-court matches. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Wimbledon is without a doubt the magnificent theatre of tennis, with the game represented as regal as it gets. However, theater may take many different forms, as Ben Shelton demonstrated over the past two days.

He had fallen behind 148th-ranked Mattia Bellucci, a fellow lefthander and qualifier, two sets to one on Monday night, leaving Court 18 in both literal and metaphorical darkness. Shelton said, “He was playing so well.” “He was hitting back bigger than me with every big ball I hit.”

Shelton brought a lot of the urgency that has quickly elevated him to the Top 20 rankings today when the match resumed a little over two hours later. He ultimately won 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Shelton declared, “I’m happy with the adjustments I made.” “I didn’t just hit the ball; I tried to play.”

Shelton made a significant shift on Tuesday afternoon when he decided to start varying his spins and speeds in an attempt to throw Bellucci off-balance. He declared, “I don’t see myself as just a ball-basher.” “When I can create more angles and have a little more time to be creative, that’s when I play my best tennis.”

Wimbledon’s taste for subtlety faded in the face of Shelton’s vigor and adaptability. As Shelton walked the court today, a fan chanted, “Go Gators!” in honor of his collegiate tennis background. The approximately 800 spectators that crowded Court 18 undoubtedly enjoyed Shelton’s enthusiasm.

Shelton regularly provided fans in the grandstand with numerous breathtaking moments, whether it was with his potent topspin forehand, his ability to slice with one hand or drive with two on the backhand, or his developing net game (18 of 23 at the net in the past two sets). Not to be overlooked is the enormous serve. Shelton hit 19 aces, including his go-to left-handed slice in the ad court at 120 mph on match point.

Shelton focused like a laser at the beginning of the last two sets. Bellucci can whip his own lefty forehand and serve really effectively at times, so winning this match was going to need work. “Anyone who makes it out of the Wimbledon qualifying is a battle-tested tennis player,” as John McEnroe once remarked.

Bellucci has repeatedly become trapped in rallies for just long enough to cause mistakes during this match. The inherent discomfort that results from two lefthanders playing opposite each other was added to this.

Shelton hit a backhand down-the-line winner in the fourth set with Bellucci serving at 0-1 that appeared to win the set at that very moment. Similarly, the fifth game started with a Nadalesque forehand passing move across the court and ultimately resulted in the crucial service break.

Still, Shelton was prevented from running to the finish line by two significant factors. Rain twice delayed the fifth set. Serving at 0-2, Bellucci sliced an underhand serve that resulted in a return error against a red-hot Shelton. A drizzle then created a 15–20 minute delay. Bellucci fought off two break points after returning to the court and ultimately held.

Ben Shelton Survives Epic Battle with Bellucci at Wimbledon 2024
The 21-year-old wants to get better than his third-round performances at the first two majors of the season in Melbourne and Paris. Photo Credit: Getty Images

At a very stressful moment, as Shelton was about to serve for the match at 5-4, there was a second delay. This one forced the players off the court, and they didn’t come back for about seventy minutes.

Shelton has many strengths, but his admiration for the guy on the internet and his positive self-talk may be his greatest quality. Shelton remarked, “It was competitive and good.” He had a strong desire for it. It was interesting to observe. It’s hard to envision Shelton being jaded at this point in his career. Think of Shelton as a work-in-progress Carlos Alcaraz (since, of course, Alcaraz thinks of himself as work in progress).

Also Read: Top Matches to Watch on Wimbledon Day 3: Sinner, Berrettini, Osaka, and More

Stan Smith, the 1972 Wimbledon winner and another big-serving American, observed the match and remarked of Ben, “He just loves the atmosphere of competition.” Smith had a brief greeting with the winner after the game and had previously worked with Ben’s father and coach, Bryan, back in the 1980s.

Shelton will play for the third straight day on Wednesday, against Lloyd Harris, who is ranked 118th. In a fifth-set tiebreaker on Monday, the qualifier overcame another young American, Alex Michelsen, after trailing two sets to love down.

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