Rafael Nadal he trained with Ben Shelton before the first Major of the season. Only a few could guess that the young American would have a better run than the Spaniard. Nadal suffered a left hip injury in the second round against Mackenzie McDonald and lost in straight sets.
On the other hand, the current NCAA champion slipped into the top eight and played his first Major quarterfinals. With those points, Ben will break into the top 50 on Monday, making him the youngest American in that group. It took Shelton five ATP tournaments to break into the top 50, while Nadal played eight events to find himself there.
However, their trajectories could not have been more different. Nadal barely played in junior tournaments, reaching the Wimbledon semifinal in 2002 and setting his sights on professionalism. Rafa made his ATP debut on home soil in Mallorca in April 2002 and notched an ATP victory as a 15-year-old.
An incredible youngster who won six Futures titles that year and raised his level early in 2003 to reach four Challenger finals in the first three months. At the age of 16, he reached the third round in his debut at the Monte Carlo Masters 1000 and repeated in Hamburg and Wimbledon.
Without stopping there, Nadal achieved six victories in Bastad, Stuttgart and Umag and slipped into the top 50 after the Challenger title in Segovia at 17 years and two months. At that age, Shelton was still a junior, participating in numerous USTA junior events, and having never left the United States.
Ben began his college career with the Florida Gators in 2020, working with his father, Bryan de he. Shelton went 28-5 in his first year, becoming the team leader and top prize contender in 2022. Tennis legend John McEnroe recently addressed speculation about Rafael Nadal’s retirement following his elimination at the Open in Australia of 2023.
Nadal congratulates Novak Djokovic
Tennis journalist Steve Flink reckons Novak Djokovic won’t be able to win as many Australian Open titles as Rafael Nadal has at the French Open. «I don’t think so and I’m a huge fan of Djokovic.
I can see him getting a couple more. I don’t see four more at this stage of his career, no, that would be amazing. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple more though. So, I don’t see the other four happening,» Flink said. «So, we have the other question, can Rafa get No.
15 at Roland Garros? Well, that will depend a lot on his health because Djokovic was dealing with a very serious and worrying injury, but when you talk about a hamstring, it’s not the same as Rafa had,» Flink said.