Ben Shelton says he owes much of his success to his father after his remarkable run to the Australian Open quarter-finals.
Shelton, whose father Bryan is a former professional on the ATP Tour, was ranked outside the top 500 this time last year.
This is only his second Grand Slam appearance and the first time he has ever travelled outside his home country of America.
“Even being here was quite exciting for me and a really cool experience, so being in the quarter-finals in my first time here is surreal,” the 20-year-old told Eurosport.
Shelton is one of three American men in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open along with Sebastian Korda and Tommy Paul.
He faces Paul in the last eight in the first meeting between the pair.
Shelton’s run in Melbourne will take him into the top 50 in the rankings, which is higher than his dad reached – his best was world No. 55.
“We are definitely competitive in a lot of things, but I definitely have to owe my success to him,” said Shelton.
“He’s been coaching me since I picked up a racquet, he’s the guy that’s kept my head screwed on when I get a little out of line.
“He’s just been a great role model for me in the tennis world so it’s been amazing for me to have a tennis parent who has been through all the hardships and experiences of being a pro on tour.”
Shelton played American football and baseball when he was younger and says both sports have helped his tennis development.
“I think it’s definitely a good combination. I played football growing up, I also played baseball for a few years, so that combination of those throwing motions, along with in my spare time I loved throwing any kind of ball around, be it a football or baseball, I loved to see how far I could launch it, so I think the way I was brought up athletically definitely contributes to how alive my arm is on a tennis court.”
As well as a sporting parent, Shelton also has a sporting girlfriend.
His partner Anna Hall is a heptathlete who has competed for America on the world stage.
Asked how competitive they are together, Shelton said: “Definitely competitive, not in the gym, I’d say workouts for being a track athlete and a tennis player are very different, but we definitely compete on the track sometimes.
“She runs me through some of her workouts and I’ve been teaching her a little bit of tennis so we have fun going back and forth in each other’s sports.”
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