MELBOURNE, Australia — Pro tennis is one of the most international sports, but the American Ben Shelton has only just become global.
This Australian Open, which starts on Monday, is part of his first trip outside the United States. His passport is in mint condition; his eyes are almost as big as his lefty serve.
“A whole lot of blue; it almost doesn’t look real,” Shelton said as he walked the grounds at Melbourne Park, with its azure signage and courts, for the first time this week. “It’s like an alternate world.”
Shelton, a strapping and mop-topped 20-year-old from Gainesville, Fla., who is embarking on his first full season on tour, earned his spot in Melbourne in a hurry, making the biggest leap into the year-end top 100 of any men’s singles player in 2022.
He did it by winning in the big leagues: He upset Casper Ruud, a French Open and U.S. Open finalist in 2022, in…