Ben Shelton won his first ATP Tour title by defeating Russian tennis player Aslan Karatsev in the Japan Open final on Sunday. He secured a 7-5, 6-1 victory over 84 minutes.
After the match ended, Shelton hugged his father, who is also his coach and an ATP champion himself.
“That meant a lot to me and my team,” Shelton said about the win, according to ESPN. “We have been working really hard since the beginning to build my game and win titles on the ATP Tour. I made some deep runs lately.”
“You see the great champions, they finish weeks off,” he added. “They win titles, they don’t just get to finals. They are able to maintain their level throughout the week. I am not saying I am anywhere there yet, but to be able to do it for one week, put together five matches in a row in Tokyo is really special.”
Shelton also debuted a new celebration on the court. He fixed an imaginary tie and held a briefcase as a message that he means business. The tennis player said he discussed doing the celebration with a friend beforehand.
The 21-year-old noted that the victory means “a lot” to him.
“It is not something I thought I would accomplish when I started playing tennis,” he told the ATP. “To be able to be in a position to compete for a title and hold my nerve and win one is really special for me and my team and something I will remember for the rest of my life.”
View this post on Instagram
The victory now ranks him at No. 15, with players such as Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe ahead of him. It is the first time four American men have reached the top 15 since 1997.
“I have surpassed my expectations for the year,” Shelton said. “It has been a dream year for me and being able to do well at tournaments and now win a tournament and also take loses and learn things about myself. Play on different surfaces, being introduced to new and different cultures. It has all been a blessing and I have really enjoyed my first full year on Tour.”