The 20-year-old American Ben Shelton played his first clay-court ATP match at the ATP 250 event in Estoril. The young gun prevailed over Constant Lestienne 7-5, 7-5 in an hour and 34 minutes for a place in the second round and his first triumph on the slowest surface.
Also, it was Ben’s first professional match on European soil. A left-handed American played better behind the first and second serve and prevailed in the closing stages of both sets to seal the deal without playing a decider.
Shelton got broken once and grabbed three return games to emerge at the top and move into the last 16. The American fended off a set point in the opener’s tenth game and claimed three straight games to steal it and gain momentum.
Ben trailed 5-4 in the second set and rattled off the remaining three games to achieve a milestone victory.
Ben Shelton delivered his first clay-court ATP victory in Estoril.
Lestienne held at 15 in the encounter’s first game, and Shelton leveled the score at 1-1 with a crafty volley winner at the net.
The Frenchman secured the third game with a lob winner, and the American fired a service winner in the next one to lock the result at 2-2. Constant landed a backhand down the line winner in the fifth game, and Ben responded with a service winner a few minutes for 3-3.
Both players played well behind the initial shot in the next three games, and the American served to stay in the set at 4-5. He faced a set point and denied it with a serve & volley combo to prolong the action. Lestienne sprayed errors in the 11th game to lose serve and push the youngster 6-5 in front.
Ben served for the set in game 12 and created a set point with a backhand crosscourt winner. He wasted it before seizing the second with a drop shot winner for 7-5 after 45 minutes. The American broke at love at the start of the second set and held in the next one to rattle off five straight games and open a 7-5, 2-0 gap.
Constant broke back at love in game four after the rival’s loose drop shot and got back into contention. Both players fended off a break point in games eight and nine to remain neck and neck and introduce more drama. Shelton blasted a forehand down the line winner at 4-5 for a hold at love and a boost.
The American grabbed a break in the 11th game to make the crucial difference and serve for the triumph at 6-5. A left-handed fired a service winner for a hold at 15 and a place in the second round.