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Shelton gets revenge over Tiafoe for UTS Los Angeles loss

Nine months ago, Ben “The Mountain” Shelton and Frances “Big Foe” Tiafoe squared off in an electric encounter at UTS Los Angeles.

Tiafoe, the senior statesman in this all-American clash, won the match in a riveting sudden death duel after the pair won two quarters each. Since then, however, Shelton has well and truly gained his revenge – first defeating Big Foe in the US Open quarter-finals, and more recently, taking his Houston Open trophy from him.

Shelton wins first clay title in high-calibre clash against Big Foe

There’s nothing better than an all-UTS match on the ATP Tour, but this one was special.

With Shelton and Tiafoe contesting the Houston Open final on Sunday, they became the first two African American men to ever contest an ATP final. It was also Shelton’s first clay court final, and he made it a successful one.

The final was played at a high level, with both men dominating on serve. Only three breaks took place across the match, with The Mountain claiming two of these, crucially in the 12th game of the opening set, and early on in the decider.

After the match, Shelton had kind words to say about Big Foe in his victory speech:

“You’ve been such an inspiration to kids, people of colour in our sport. Just an amazing representation,” Shelton said. “You’ve been that guy to always put on for us, be selfless, thinking about others, kids younger than you. Thanks for everything that you do for our sport, and people that look like you and me.”

The pair brought plenty of UTS flair to the court, with several jaw-dropping exchanges that saw Shelton prevail thanks to lightning-quick reflexes at the net. It was Tiafoe who brought the UTS-attitude in his runner-up speech, however, declaring, “screw you, Ben” in a good-natured dig at his friend for winning the match.

“First of all, I’m going to take the high road here and say great week Foe,” Shelton responded. “Great job to you and your team. Sorry this one stings and you didn’t go back-to-back titles. You’re that type of player who can go back-to-back.”

Tiafoe will next be competing on the UTS Tour in October, with UTS Frankfurt taking place from October 17th to 20th.