Despite a series of unsuccessful attempts, American tennis player Shelton has finally achieved his first ATP Tour final at the Japan Open.

Shelton triumphed over American qualifier Marcos Giron with a 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 6-4 victory.

Shelton didn’t get off to a great start against Giron, losing the first set. He said in an interview that if he kept playing like that, he was sure he’d lose. This forced the 21-year-old to change his strategy mid-game and ‘shake things up’.

“I knew that if I continued to keep playing the way I was, with the rhythm that he’d found, I was going to lose the match,” he said, per Supersport. “I tried to shake things up and try something that was going to surprise him.”

After escaping a close call in the second set 7-6 (7/5), Shelton maintained his momentum and finished the match with an ace. Shelton said the game was definitely not a stroll in the park because he had to adapt and find solutions while playing.

Although he eventually figured it out, he admitted that it was not an ‘easy process’ for him.

Shelton on his achievement

As the tennis enthusiasts and spectators celebrated his milestone, the Tennis Letter shared his post-match interview on X:

“It’s a huge achievement for me and my team. Especially the way the match came out today. Definitely one of the toughest matches I’ve played in my life. Marcos was waxing me from the baseline in almost every rally. I had to completely change my game up to even have a chance to compete against him. To be able to get through that match, not only figure some things out, but get a win & be going into my 1st ATP Final… the win couldn’t be sweeter,” Shelton said.

He was also asked about the condition of his legs given that six of his last seven matches had been three setters, to which Shelton responded:

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“The legs are a little heavy today, but I’ll definitely be recovered by tomorrow. I’ll be ready to go. I think if nothing else, adrenaline will get me through the match.”

After overcoming a formidable adversary, Shelton is set to take on Russian Aslan Karatsiev in the semi-finals on Sunday.


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The photo above is from a YouTube screengrab

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