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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday April 5, 2024

Ben Shelton

Shelton survived a tough battle with Brandon Nakashima to reach his first semifinal on clay in Houston.

Photo Source: Mark Howard

Making his debut at the US Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston, 21-year-old Ben Shelton is going to stick around for the weekend.

Tennis Express

The 16th-ranked American came through a tough tussle with Brandon Nakashima on Friday, 7-5, 7-6(7), to reach his first clay-court semifinal and set a clash with second-seeded Tomas Martin Etcheverry of Argentina.

Shelton improves to 13-7 on the season and reaches his third semifinal of 2022. The southpaw saved all seven break points he faced, and saved a pair of set points in the second-set tiebreak after Nakashima rallied back from 4-1 down.

“He made things really difficult and I was definitely feeling the pressure in that tiebreak, so I’m really happy to get through,” Shelton said of his fourth career win on clay.

Shelton needed two hours and 13 minutes to earn the victory, and afterwards had some fun when he signed the camera: “Semis?? Clay???”

The American entered the week with a 2-7 record on the surface, but is improving with seemingly every rep and now looks forward to a clash with Etcheverry, last year’s runner-up in Houston.

“I think that’s a great test,” said Shelton. “Classic clay court tennis isn’t the style that I play, so I’m going to see some different things from him, that I’m not used to, and he’ll see some different things from me – I’m really excited for the matchup."

In the lower half quarterfinals, defending champion Frances Tiafoe battled past Jordan Thompson 7-6(8), 6-4 to set a semifinal with Italy's Luciano Darderi, who toppled seventh-seeded Marcos Giron 6-0, 6-4.


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