Ben Shelton won his first BNP Paribas Open match on Thursday. The American lost in the first round at Delray Beach and Acapulco last month despite having a dream run to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in January. The 20-year-old defeated Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-1 to advance to the second round in Indian Wells, making sure his lull in form wouldn't turn into a slump.
After an hour and 11 minutes, the left-handed player gave the home crowd a peek of his potential by dispatching the Italian with a barrage of forehand winners to win their maiden ATP Head2Head match. The American was excellent on return, hitting with accuracy to break three times, hugging the baseline to command.
Shelton, who made his ATP Masters 1000 debut in Cincinnati last season and advanced to the third round, has moved up two spots to No. 39 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. One year ago, the 20-year-old didn't make the Top 500. The American's second-round matchup with 2022 champion Taylor Fritz is expected to be exciting in the California desert on Saturday.