And after finishing off a 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (4) victory to reach the final, Djokovic added a touch of insult to injury by mimicking the American’s ‘Hang up the phone!’ celebration gesture.
Novak Djokovic earned himself another shot at a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title after beating unseeded American Ben Shelton in straight sets on Friday, September 8, to advance to his 10th US Open final. Djokovic ended the run of the 20-year-old Shelton, winning 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) to set up a potential repeat of his Wimbledon final against Carlos Alcaraz, who faces Daniil Medvedev in the other semi-final.
“Another Grand Slam final. I can’t be happier with where I am,” said Djokovic, who will return to number one in the world after the US Open. “I expect the toughest match of the tournament for me, regardless of who’s going to be across the net.”
The 36-year-old Djokovic is attempting to become the oldest men’s champion in New York in the Open era, which would also see him match Margaret Court’s all-time mark for most major singles titles. The Serbian has now won 22 of his last 23 Grand Slam semi-finals. He captured the last of his three US Open titles in 2018. Djokovic has reached the final at all four majors in the same year for the third time. He will try to claim three Grand Slams in the same season for the fourth time in his career.
Facing Shelton for the first time, with the roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium closed due to the threat of rain, Djokovic landed the first blow by breaking for a 4-2 lead in the opening set. Shelton showed tremendous grit to save four set points on his serve at 2-5, carving out a point to break back the next game only for Djokovic to see out the set at the fifth time asking.
The world number 47 pushed a forehand wide to present Djokovic with two break points at 2-2 in the second set, coughing up an untimely double fault to again gift his rival the upper hand. Djokovic pressed home his advantage with a second break and surged two sets clear after Shelton buried a backhand return into the net. A passing forehand winner gave Djokovic another break to open the third set, but Shelton put up a late act of defiance to break back for 4-all and even conjured a set point in the 10th game.
Djokovic produced a clutch serve out wide on the way to a battling hold, punishing Shelton for a sloppy ensuing game but then stumbling himself with the finish in sight. Shelton saved a match point to break and send the set to a tie-break before Djokovic hauled himself over the line and into a 36th Grand Slam final.