World No. 20 Ben Shelton has warmed the hearts of tennis fans after a brilliant act of sportsmanship at the Shanghai Masters.
The 21-year-old American lost 7-6 2-6 7-6 to 23-year-old countryman Sebastian Korda in the quarterfinals in a thrilling match but won over fans for a brilliant act of sportsmanship during the first set tie-break.
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Having opened up a 2-0 lead in the first set decider but came to Korda’s aid over a contentious call.
Shelton fired a big wide serve but Korda called for a challenge.
However, the umpire wasn’t looking.
Korda called three times before he caught the umpires attention.
“I didn’t hear it,” the umpire told him. “But you have to make it loud or wave at me.”
But instead of just making the next serve, Shelton came up to the umpire to explain that Korda had made the challenge straight away.
“I saw him go like this (put his hand in the air),” Shelton said. “I saw him, you can give him the challenge.”
The umpire appeared somewhat surprised by the moment and checked with Korda to see if he still wanted to challenge, which he did and the ball was well in.
While some have questioned whether Shelton knew it was in, other said it was a sweet moment that left Korda in no doubt that the ball was in, rather than potentially believing he was dudded on a controversial call.
Korda came back to win the set 12-10 in the tie-break.
It was a big moment as Masters tournaments are second only to Grand Slams with both prizemoney and plenty of rankings points on offer.
The winner of the Shanghai Masters for example takes home $US1.2m ($A1.9m)
The brilliant act was praised by fans, including 18-time grand slam champion Martina Navratilova.
Tennis journalist Mario Boccardi tweeted: “Great sportsmanship by Ben Shelton here. He asked the umpire to turn his decision and let Korda use the challenge.”
The QualityShot Tennis page shared: “This is total class from Shelton. He is not what he was portrayed by certain fanbases.”
Another fan wrote: “Ben Shelton just demonstrated perfect sportsmanship.”
Shelton had a controversial celebration after beating countryman Frances Tiafoe in the US Open quarterfinals when he mimed hanging up a phone call.
But the celebration came back to bite him in the semi-final when Novak Djokovic mimicked the action following his straight sets victory over the American.
The pair reportedly had a less than friendly interaction at the net after the incident as well.
Shelton was also slammed for a celebration in a doubles match after hitting a ball directly at a rival player, which is not illegal but frowned upon.
Shelton has had a brilliant year, having reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and semi-finals of the US Open.
Shelton also congratulated Korda at the net after the American moved into his first Masters semi-final with a huge smile on his face.
The 26th seed Korda will play Polish 16th seed Hubert Hurkacz for a place in the final.
But he didn’t have it easy as it took six match points to finally claim the win over Shelton.
“It was a super-high level from both of us and thrilled to get through an especially tricky tie break,” said Korda, whose father Petr reached two in the world and won the Australian Open in 1998.
“That’s probably one of the biggest things of having a father who played tennis — to kind of understand certain moments.
“I think in those certain moments you got to stay really calm. You can have such a big lead like that and you could just completely panic or get super down on yourself and just get lost.”
On the other side of the draw, 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov will play 22nd seed Nicolas Jarry for a place in the final.