Tennis: Top seed Ben Shelton survives opening examination to reach ASB Classic quarter-finals

With his fellow seeds falling around him, ASB Classic favourite Ben Shelton has advanced imperiously into the quarter-finals, as he chases his second career ATP Tour crown.

The American top seed needed 1h 11m to dispatch Hungarian Fabian Marozsan, 6-3 6-4, in the second round, booking a final-eight encounter with Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baenas.

On a day when at least half the eight seeded players failed to live up to their billing, Shelton showed his class, breaking Marozsan's serve for a 4-2 lead in the first set, before breaking again for 3-2 in the second.

Ben Shelton in action at the ASB Classic.
Ben Shelton in action at the ASB Classic. Photo credit: Photosport

His only previous success came at the Japan Open last October, but a current world ranking of 16th sets him up well for the Auckland event.

"It was a pretty cool experience out here," he said. "Last year, when I played, we got a lot of rain.

"I didn't play any matches outside and we didn't get to see any of you guys [fans] out here during my matches. Really cool atmosphere at this tournament... it was a blast."

Shelton did not survive this same stage in 2023, dispatched by Frenchman Quentin Halys in straight sets, but seems far more prepared this time round.

With the top four seeds earning first-round byes, this was his first appearance this year, while his opponent had already bundled out crowd favourite Gael Monfils on the opening evening.

"Definitely a tough match playing against Fabian," said Shelton. "I had a tough time against him last year at a Challenger and he beat the No.1 player in the world [Carlos Alcaraz] on arguably his favourite surface, so really cool to match up against him."

His persistence will come as a relief to tournament organisers, who had already lost fifth-seeded American Chris Eubanks, along with defending champion Richard Gasquet and two-time winner Roberton Bautista Agut, in their opening matches.

On Wednesday, Argentinian third seed Francisco Cerundolo, Canadian fourth seed Felix Auger-Alissime, Austrian seventh seed Sebastian Ofner and Aussie eighth seed Max Purcell also bowed out.

Soon after Shelton became the first seet through to the last eight, French teenager Arthur Fils, seeded sixth, joined him with a 6-2 6-0 romp over Portugese Nuno Borges, needing only 48 minutes to complete the rout. He faces French qualifier Alexandre Muller at the next stage. 

NZ-raised British second seed Cam Norrie, who has twice finished runner-up at the tournament, makes his first appearance against Frenchman Luca van Assche in the evening session, while Kiwi doubles star Michael Venus and British parnter Jamie Murray take on a Germans Sander Gile and Joran Vliegen.