Ben Shelton takes ball girl under his umbrella in heartwarming gesture during rain delay in doubles match at ATP Shanghai

  • The 21-year-old lost to Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open semifinals last month
  • Shelton played at the doubles version of ATP Shanghai with Hubert Hurkacz
  • provides all the latest international sports news

Ben Shelton has emerged as the crowd’s new favorite at the 2023 Shanghai Masters after generously inviting a ball girl to share his umbrella amid rain during his doubles match.

On Monday, Shelton and Hubert Hurkacz faced Cam Norrie and Rinky Hijikata at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament’s Round of 32. The American and the Pole got off to a strong start, capitalizing on a crucial break point to take a 5-4 lead in the first set. 

But, rain interrupted play before they could attempt to serve out the set. 

As usual, ball boys quickly get into position to protect players from drizzle, although when he noticed a ball girl holding an umbrella for him at the expense of covering herself, Shelton kindly relieved the ball girl from her duties. 

Instead, the U.S. Open semifinalist invited her to sit beside him, so that they could share shelter together.

Ben Shelton (L) shared cover with a ball girl during his doubles match in Shanghai on Monday

The world’s No. 20 earned a round of an applause from fans in the stands, as they also cheered for him in response to his heartwarming gesture. 

Once play resumed, momentum shifted, with Norrie and Hijikata ultimately taking command of the first set, 7-5. 

Despite bouncing back strongly to take the second set, 7-5,. Shelton and Hurkacz were unable to secure victory as Norrie and Hijikata ran out winners, 7-5 5-7 (10-6).

The 21-year-old Shelton is also competing in the singles version of the tournament in Shanghai. He came from behind to beat Roman Safiullin, 3-6 6-3 6-4, to advance to the fourth round.  

Shelton, 21, burst onto tennis' biggest stage at the U.S. Open, where he lost in the semi-finals

Shelton, 21, burst onto tennis’ biggest stage at the U.S. Open, where he lost in the semi-finals

He will face No. 6-seed Jannik Sinner in a blockbuster clash on Tuesday for a place in the quarterfinals.

Sinner, meanwhile, defeated Marcos Giron 7-6 (7) 6-2 before beating Sebastien Boez 3-6 6-3 6-2 to make it to the competition’s last 16. 

Hurkacz is still alive in the single series, too, and will take on home favorite Zhizhen Zhang, also on Tuesday. 

The world’s No. 9 leads 1-0 in his against Zhang. He won their only previous contest at the 2019 Shanghai Masters in straight sets.