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via Reuters

via Reuters

Ben Shelton‘s first-round match at Wimbledon had a lot of talking points. Shelton, who has struggled on grass this season, was down by two sets to one when darkness postponed play on July 1. The match resumed the next day but rain interrupted the action and when play resumed it wasn’t easy going, especially for Shelton, who refused to continue on the slippery surface.

The American sensation played in his first-round match against Mattia Bellucci of Italy. The latter is a seasoned clay-court player, having spent his time growing up on the clay courts in his home country. As a result, he is well acquainted with sliding on the court, contrary to Shelton, who grew up playing on the hard courts.

With rain pouring down at Wimbledon, Shelton had a close shave with injury as he slipped during his first-round match. While the fall wasn’t brutal enough to result in any injury, he decided to wait until the conditions improved.

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via Reuters

Poll of the day

Do you think Ben Shelton made the right decision by refusing to play?

Yes, safety first

No, he should have played

Not sure

During the fifth set, Shelton refused to let the play continue for fear of sliding on the slippery grass court. This delay didn’t go down well with his opponent, who disagreed.

Bellucci exchanged a few words with Shelton over the delay. Eventually, the match got suspended with the rain falling heavily. At that time Shelton was just a game away from winning the match having leveled it at 2-2.

The match holds great importance for Shelton, who has not been at his best on the grass court this year. He lost his first match in the Stuttgart Open followed by a first-round exit at the Queen’s Club Championships to Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard in two sets. More misery on grass followed when he was beaten by qualifier and then-World No. 289 Paul Jubb in the Mallorca Open.

Last year at Wimbledon, he went out in the second and will hope for a better showing this term. Even though he has said that he “could do very well,” on this surface, he admitted that he hasn’t “done anything yet.”

Match Update: Despite the delays and drama, Ben Shelton clinched a victory over Mattia Bellucci to clinch a first-round win. As play resumed after the rain interruption, Shelton continued his momentum to win  4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Can he better last year’s performance and go further than the second round this year? He will next play Lloyd Harris, who won an incredible game against Alex Michelson yesterday. This will also mean that Shelton will be in action for a third straight day.

Meanwhile, keeping himself healthy and avoiding an injury is something Shelton is prioritizing at the moment. Although it remains to be seen how far he goes at Wimbledon, he has made a decision for the future keeping his well-being in mind. The 21-year-old even decided to skip the upcoming Paris Olympics to avoid a hectic schedule.

Ben Shelton to skip Paris Olympics to better prepare for US Open

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The American sensation had a breakthrough last season when he reached the US Open semifinals. Subsequently, he became a household name in American tennis and is widely followed. However, his recent decision to skip the Paris Olympics surprised many but Shelton lamented a tough schedule behind his decision.

The American revealed, “Definitely thought about it a lot. I’d say now I’m leaning towards not going this year if I were to make it. I think it’s tough in the tennis schedule this year. I’ll be in Europe for two months leading up to Wimbledon, and then after, you know, I want to prepare and really get ready for the US Open.”

Many players have been complaining about the repeated switch from clay to grass and then again to clay for the Olympic Games. Moreover, clay is not his preferred surface anyway, so the Olympics are not a priority this year.

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Further, Shelton went on to add, “So having to go back to Europe to play on clay, a different surface, you know, it kind of messes up a few lead-up tournaments to the US Open that I would play if I wasn’t playing the Olympics.”

With the Paris Olympics not being on his mind, Shelton will aim to shine at the major tournaments. He will look to better his previous performance at his home Grand Slam tournament, the US Open when he reached the semifinal. However, for now, he will aim to dig deep at Wimbledon and avoid any injuries that might derail his season.