Novak Djokovic limited big-serving Ben Shelton to five aces and was broken five times in the US Open semi-finals on Friday. Djokovic was pushed back when the 20-year-old unseeded American made a late stand that brought the home crowd into the match.
And after overcoming what he called “a little black hole” due to stress, he won 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(4) and reached his record-tying 10th title at Flushing Meadows. Final and reached 36th place. At all major tournaments, Djokovic has used the child’s “Put down the phone!” Added insult to injury by copying. The feeling of celebration.
Djokovic then pointed to his temple and punched his chest, before a stone-faced Shelton met him at the net for the most casual of handshakes. A year after Djokovic could not travel to the United States for the Open because he has not been vaccinated against COVID-19, the 36-year-old from Serbia is one away from a fourth title in New York and 24th Grand Slam championship overall Victory is far away.
“Well, the fact is, at 36, every Grand Slam final… could be the last. So I think I probably value these opportunities and the opportunities to win another Slam more than I did 10 years ago,” said Djokovic, who will be the oldest man to win the US Open in the professional era, which began in 1968. happened. I don’t know how many people are ahead of me now.”
With wins at the Australian Open in January and the French Open in June, she has made the finals of all four major events this season.
On Sunday, Djokovic will face either defending champion Carlos Alcaraz, who defeated Djokovic for the Wimbledon title in July, or 2021 US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, who defeated Djokovic in the final at Flushing Meadows two years later to win the calendar-year title. Was deprived of Grand Slam. First.
If Djokovic walks away with the hardware this time, he will break a tie with Serena Williams for the most singles championships in the Open era.
“This is another chance for history,” said Djokovic, who was seeded No. 2 at the US Open but will replace Alcaraz at No. 1 next week, no matter what happens on Sunday.
Djokovic vs. Shelton certainly seemed like a mismatch at first: Djokovic was appearing in his record 47th Slam semifinal and his 100th US Open match; The 47th-ranked Shelton was playing in his first major semi and only the seventh of his career at the Open.
Shelton won the NCAA singles title for the University of Florida last year and has drawn attention over the past two weeks with her powerful swing of her racket, hitting 76 aces entering the tournament on Friday, and “Yes!” Raised slogans. Or flexing his biceps after winning a point and doing a victory-capping pantomime by pretending his hand is an old-style telephone handset that he slams down.
“I thought it was very original and I copied it,” Djokovic said, smiling. “I stole her celebration.”
Shelton actually borrowed it from former Florida track and field athlete Grant Holloway, a world champion hurdler.
Shelton insisted that he was not bothered by Djokovic’s gesture at the end of the match.
“I don’t like it when I’m on social media and see people telling me how I can or can’t celebrate. I think if you win the match, you’re entitled to do whatever you want, Shelton said. “As a kid growing up, I always learned that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so that’s all I have to say about that.”
He made things interesting in the third set, raising his level of play as Djokovic tightened up as the finish line approached. Shelton broke only twice in the match, even holding a set point at 5–4 and later erasing a match point, forcing a final tiebreaker.
Fans liked it very much.
“It was loud,” Shelton said. “I mean, really loud.”
But when the going gets tough, Djokovic always remains so tough that he wins.
The retractable roof was closed due to rain in the forecast, leading to shouting and applause at Arthur Ashe Stadium, where there were extra police officers and security guards, a day after four climate protesters – including one man There was a 50-minute delay during Coco Gauff’s semi-final win – who stuck her bare feet to the concrete in the stands.
In his sleeveless muscle shirt, Shelton came out serving his highly-rated lefty. After hitting a speed of 140 mph (226 kph), he shook his racket. he shouted, after hitting an ace at 145 mph (233 kph).
A few lulls from Shelton turned things around quickly against the relentlessly aggressive Djokovic. A bad drop shot here hit the net, a flubbed volley there, and Shelton’s serve was broken and he trailed 4-2. Djokovic calmly moved towards the towel box kept in a corner to mop up. Got it: It was only 20 minutes and six games.
But the end result never really came into doubt. Well, okay, a little burst of excellence from Shelton after trailing 4-2 in the last set.
However, in the end, all Djokovic’s experience won out, along with his ability to return serve, grind out point after point with his sneaker-screaming, body-bending defense and more.
“He’s a guy who can compete at the highest level, he has the same mentality on the court as me, he wants to come after you and be aggressive and show emotion,” Shelton said. “It was really cool to see that matchup for the first time. “Hopefully there is hope to get it back.”