'Novak Djokovic reaches 10th US Open final, triumphs over Ben Shelton'
Novak Djokovic defeated Ben Shelton in the U.S. Open semifinals, reaching his 10th final and mocking Shelton's celebration.
Novak Djokovic showcased his dominance at the U.S. Open as he defeated Ben Shelton in the semifinals to secure his spot in the final. Djokovic limited Shelton's big-serving game to just five aces and broke him five times throughout the match. Despite Shelton's late surge that ignited the home crowd, Djokovic remained composed and finished with a 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (4) victory.
In a moment of added insult, Djokovic mimicked Shelton's signature celebration gesture, known as "Hang up the phone!" The Serbian player pointed to his temple and pounded his fist on his chest, leaving Shelton with a stone-faced reaction during their perfunctory handshake at the net. Djokovic's victory not only secured his record-tying 10th U.S. Open final appearance but also marked his 36th appearance in a major tournament final.
Last year, Djokovic was unable to participate in the U.S. Open due to his unvaccinated status against COVID-19. However, this year, the 36-year-old Serbian is just one victory away from claiming his fourth title at Flushing Meadows and his 24th Grand Slam championship overall. Djokovic expressed his enthusiasm for these high-stakes matches, stating that they still inspire him and push him to work hard like the younger players.
Shelton, an unseeded 20-year-old American, gained attention throughout the tournament with his powerful swings and energetic celebrations. Despite Djokovic's imitation of his celebration, Shelton took it in stride, stating that he believes winners should be able to celebrate however they please. Shelton's performance in the third set raised the stakes, as he broke Djokovic twice and even held a set point at 5-4. He managed to force a tiebreaker but ultimately fell short against Djokovic's unwavering resilience.
Djokovic now awaits the winner of the match between defending champion Carlos Alcaraz and 2021 U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev. Regardless of his opponent, Djokovic anticipates a tough match and is determined to give his all. If Djokovic emerges victorious in the final, he will surpass Serena Williams for the most major singles championships in the Open era.
Furthermore, Djokovic's triumph in the semifinals secures his position as the new world No. 1 in the ATP rankings, replacing Alcaraz. The match between Djokovic and Shelton was expected to be a mismatch, given Djokovic's extensive experience in major tournaments. Djokovic participated in his record 47th Slam semifinal and played his 100th U.S. Open match, while Shelton, ranked 47th, was in his first major semifinal and only his seventh career match at the Open.
The match took place under a closed retractable roof due to rain in the forecast. Despite the unusual circumstances, the atmosphere in Arthur Ashe Stadium was electric, with echoes of cheers and applause reverberating throughout. The heightened security was a result of the previous day's incident involving climate protesters, which caused a delay in Coco Gauff's semifinal victory.
Shelton, donning a sleeveless muscle shirt, showcased his powerful lefty serves, reaching speeds of up to 145 mph. However, Djokovic's experience and ability to return serves proved to be the determining factor. Shelton had moments of brilliance, particularly when he mounted a comeback in the third set after trailing 4-2. Nevertheless, Djokovic's unwavering focus and defensive skills allowed him to secure the victory.
Shelton acknowledged Djokovic's competitiveness and aggression on the court, expressing his admiration for the Serbian player. He looks forward to the possibility of facing Djokovic again in the future.