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Tennis-Shelton first through to quarters as action heats up at U.S. Open

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By Steve Keating

NEW YORK (Reuters) – American young gun Ben Shelton battled past Tommy Paul 6-4 6-3 4-6 6-4 to become the first man through to the U.S. Open quarter-finals as action heated up at the season’s final Grand Slam on Sunday with temperatures nudging towards 100 Fahrenheit (38 Celsius).

With five Americans playing in eight matches on the two steamy show courts, the home fans had plenty to cheer as the U.S. men continued their push to end a 20-year U.S. Open title drought.

An all-American clash kicked off the action on Arthur Ashe with 14th seed Paul taking on 20-year-old Shelton in a rematch of their Australian Open quarter-final.

Down two sets and 4-1 in third and staring at the exit, Paul fought back to prevent a rout but Shelton would not be denied, avenging his four set loss in Australia.

Paul was out smartly to a 3-0 lead but it was all down hill from there as the big-hitting Shelton blasted away, hammering down two 149 mph serves, the fastest seen at Flushing Meadows this fortnight.

Playing with swagger and energy, Shelton swept through six of the next seven games to snatch the first set and then dialled up the pressure with two late breaks in the second to go in front 2-0.

Shelton would put his opponent in a hole at 4-1 in the third but Paul continued to battle, loudly urged on by young superfan Eddy from Brooklyn, who has been in his corner all week including his comeback from a two-set deficit in the second round.

Paul would use two late breaks to win the third but there would be no way back against Shelton who held steady, breaking his compatriot to take the fourth set 6-4 and seal the win.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in New York. Editing by Toby Davis)

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