Ben Shelton keeps finding ways to win five-set matches at Wimbledon

Shelton has played in five matches in his Wimbledon career and four of them have gone to five sets. Still, he keeps finding ways to win.
Ben Shelton at Wimbledon 2024
Ben Shelton at Wimbledon 2024 / Daniel Kopatsch/GettyImages

Even before Ben Shelton's third-round match against Denis Shapovalov, the American had made news at Wimbledon. In the second round versus Lloyd Harris, Shelton hit a serve that clocked at 153 MPH. That was the fastest serve ever recorded at the tournament. The American needed all the muster he could manage as well because he was forced to go five sets for the victory.

This is something Shelton has made a habit of both times he has played the grass-court major. In his maiden voyage at Wimbledon in 2023, Shelton was bounced out in the second round in a match that went four sets. That loss was the only time he has played a match that was less than five sets; the other four have been.

Shelton is still growing as a player, of course. He only started playing full-time professional tennis at the beginning of last year. He has a few of the skills he needs to potentially be a consistent top 10 player on the ATP tour - his serve is obviously among the best on tour, he can hit bombastic shots from either wing, and he is a very good athlete - but he struggles with inconsistency at times and makes some very odd decisions on some points.

Ben Shelton defeats Denis Shapovalov in five sets (what else?) at Wimbledon

This was the case on one game point in the fourth set against Shapovalov when the Canadian hit a bit of a lob while he was run off the court and Shelton should have let the ball go out. Instead, he decided to hit the ball but even with an open court, he struck the ball wide. In other words, while Shelton keeps winning five-set matches - he defeated Shapovalov 6-7(4) 6-2 6-4 4-6 6-2 - he is forcing himself to play too long at times.

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This could cost him late in Wimbledon, should he make the quarterfinals or semifinals. He will have played a lot of tennis over the first week and a half and that might allow his opponent to be fresher. Still, if Shelton can maintain the consistency on his huge serve, that might be all he needs to have a decent shot at winning a tournament that loves big servers and big hitters.

If he can learn to play a slightly cleaner game, especially against higher-end talent, Ben Shelton could win Wimbledon. Not just in 2024, but many times. Most likely, however his Wimbledon ends will probably be in a five-set match. His next match is on Sunday versus top-seeded Jannik Sinner.

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