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Shelton outlasts Tiafoe in three sets to win U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship

HOUSTON (AP) — Ben Shelton captured his second career ATP Tour title, outlasting defending champion Frances Tiafoe 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 on Sunday to win the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship.

Shelton, 21, had 11 aces on the way to becoming the youngest player to win this event since Andy Roddick did it at 19 years old in 2002.

Shelton has had his issues on clay courts. He was 2-7 in his career on the slower surface and had lost his last five clay-court matches before starting tournament play this week.

But Shelton survived three three-set matches to take the title, his first since winning in Tokyo this past October.

The former Florida Gator standout won 83% of his first-serve points according to Infosys ATP Stats to triumph after 2 hours, 16 minutes.

He and Tiafoe are friends who had joking and kind words for each other after the match.

“I know this one stings," Shelton said. "Sorry you didn’t go back-to-back titles, but you’re that type of player who can go back-to-back. I want to see you do it again this year."

Tiafoe said it was great playing in a final after a difficult start to the year.

“It would have been cool to get number four," he said. "We’ll get that soon enough. Let’s really build on this and let’s have a good ’24.”

Shelton is expected to rise to No. 14 in next week's rankings.

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AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis