Shelton signs his first powder final and goes for the title against Tiafoe in Houston

It will be the second match in the Lexus ATP Head2Head in the final on Sunday

April 06, 2024

By ATPTour.com/es Staff

Ben Shelton always has a little more energy left in the tank. And this was demonstrated this week in the Fayez Sarofim & Co. US Clay Court Championship, but the American is still alive as the first seed in Houston and will go for the title after passing Tomas Martin Etcheverry (6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4) in the semifinals.

Shelton thus reaches his first ATP Tour final on clay and his second in total, and awaits Frances Tiafoe in the title match after the defending champion’s victory against Luciano Darderi 6-2, 7-6(2) . The Americans’ only previous meeting at the Lexus ATP Head2Head came in the quarterfinals of the 2023 US Open, when Shelton won in four sets.

Shelton, meanwhile, won his previous final, in which he won his first ATP Tour title last October in Tokyo.

In a close match from start to finish, Shelton did not have a break point in the first set against Etcheverry, whose two tour finals have been played on clay. But despite losing the first set despite winning more points than the fourth seeded Argentine (38-36), he was able to come back stronger to turn the match around.

“I think it took me a few games in the second set to find my rhythm. I was frustrated as anyone would be with the result of the first set,” said the No. 16 in the PIF ATP Rankings. “The game is a little slower, you have more time to process it. I tried to use that to my advantage today and I’m really happy to be in the finals for my first time here in Houston,” he said.


Over two and a half hours of play, Shelton saved two of three break points, according to Infosys ATP Stats. Etcheverry’s only break came in the second game of the deciding set at 1-1, part of a run of eight points by the Argentine that gave him a 2-1 lead in the third. But his momentum was quickly slowed when Shelton rallied, winning the next three games to take control.

Shelton also came back and beat Zizou Bergs in his debut in Houston to advance to his first clay court quarterfinals. He then overcame compatriot Brandon Nakashima in two tight sets, saving a set point in the second set tie-break before continuing his run.

The American, who this week rose one place in the PIF ATP Live Rankings to No. 15, could reach No. 14 with his second singles title on the ATP Tour, a mark that would mark a new milestone in his career.

For his part, Tiafoe saved both break points against Darderi to advance to his first final since June, when he won in Stuttgart. It is the American’s eighth final on the circuit (3-4) and his fourth on clay (1-2).

By beating this year’s Córdoba champion, Tiafoe became the first defending champion to reach the Houston final since Steve Johnson in 2018. “Great performance from me today,” Tiafoe said. “It’s a little different on clay here in Houston, you can play more like a hard court. But he sure is tough on this surface and will be for a long time,” he said.

Heading into his second matchup with Shelton, Tiafoe – who has only lost serve once this week – stressed the importance of his service games against his hard-hitting compatriot. “He has one of the best serves on the circuit. Maintaining serve is very important,” Tiafoe said. “He’s a great player. It’s going to be a tough game and I’m prepared for a good battle.”

Source: https://www.atptour.com/es/news/houston-2024-semis-sabado-shelton-etcheverry-tiafoe-darderi

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