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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Sunday April 7, 2024

Ben Shelton

Ben Shelton captured his maiden clay court title -- and second of his career -- in Houston, defeating Frances Tiafoe for the crown.

Photo Source: Mark Howard

It’s official: Ben Shelton can play on clay.

The 21-year-old American took home his first clay court title on his Houston debut, defeating defending champion Frances Tiafoe in Sunday’s final at the US Men’s Clay Court Championships 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

Tennis Express

The top-seeded American entered the week with a 2-7 lifetime record on the surface but completed the milestone week to become the youngest champion in Houston since Andy Roddick in 2002 – Shelton will climb to a career-high ranking of No.14 in Monday’s ATP rankings.

He joins his father and coach Bryan, a 1992 champion, on the tournament's honor roll.

"My dad won this tournament back in 1992, he had that one-up on me and I had to get one back on him today," Shelton said. "Thanks for being a trailblazer and showing me the way."

The tenth all-American final in tournament history was a nip-and-tuck battle through two and a half sets but Shelton parlayed a critical break for 3-1 in the deciding set into victory as he improved to 2-0 lifetime against 26-year-old Tiafoe.

A single break made the difference in each of the first two sets, with Shelton snagging the opening set in the 12th game of the frame, while Tiafoe broke for 2-1 in the second set and never looked back as he forced a decider.

Shelton had no problem closing the door on Tiafoe down the stretch -- he won 12 of his final 14 service points to close out the victory in two hours and 16 minutes.

Tiafoe can hold his head high after reaching the final in his title defense. He entered the season with a 7-7 record but played well to reach the final.

"It's been a really tough year and playing a final is really great," he said. "Sucks we couldn't get it done -- screw you, Ben.

"It would have been cool to get [career title] No.4, but we'll get that soon enough - let's build on this and have a good 2024."

Shelton gave a heartfelt thanks to his good friend Tiafoe in his victory speech as he praised the D.C. native for doing so much to help kids and people of color.

“You've been such an inspiration to kids, people of color in our sport, just an amazing representation,” Shelton said. “You've been that guy to always put on for us and always be selfless, thinking about others, kids younger than you. So thanks for everything that you do for our sport and people who look like you and me.”


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