Ben Shelton is enjoying his first European trip, playing well in Estoril and securing his first victory on European clay. Ben faced Constant Lestienne in the opening round and prevailed 7-5, 7-5 in an hour and 34 minutes for his first clay-court victory.
The young American said he enjoys his time in Portugal, receiving the vibes from the crowd and hoping to make a good run during his first visit to the Old Continent. 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 in straight sets.
Shelton got broken once and grabbed three return games to 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 early in the second set.
Ben trailed 5-4 and rattled off the remaining three games to achieve a milestone victory.
Ben Shelton earned 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 follow that pace and move to 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 served well behind the initial shot in the next three games, and the American had to repeat that to stay in the set at 4-5. He faced a set point and denied it with a serve & volley combo, one of the encounter’s key strokes.
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 seized 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 move closer to the top at 7-5, 2-0. Constant broke back at love in game four after the rival’s loose drop shot and got back into contention.
They both 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 advantage and serve for the triumph at 6-5.
A left-handed fired an unreturned serve for a hold at 15 and a place in the second round. “I’m delighted to be in Portugal. I want to thank the crowd for their support today. I heard the chants. I’m enjoying my time here, and hopefully, I can keep it going,” Ben Shelton said.