At just 20 years of age, Ben Shelton has picked up the phone and has put the whole tennis world on notice.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 6, 2023
After a grueling four sets (6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-2), the former Florida national champion upset No.10 Frances Tiafoe to make his way to his first Grand Slam semifinal.
The Tiafoe Test
Despite his surprising win against No. 14 Tommy Paul and his two 149 mph serves against the fellow American, Shelton’s biggest challenge had yet to come. If playing against a top-10 ranked player was not enough, the weather conditions at Tuesday night’s match were similar to The Swamp. The humidity in the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York reached a high of 70%. The match against Tiafoe was nothing short of physical.
The turning point in the match was the third set. With a tie-breaking opportunity, Shelton said he had to really dig deep to not just get the point, but to pull away with a win.
“The key for me tonight was just being tough and being relentless,” Shelton said. “Knowing I could go the distance physically, no matter how bad it hurt, and that was what I was kind of sticking with.”
Ben Shelton finds a way to win the tiebreaker and pivotal third set. pic.twitter.com/SpviyJn3jv
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 6, 2023
Shelton Makes History
He is now the youngest American man to advance to the US Open semifinals since Michael Chang did it in 1992. Shelton is the third Black American man to reach the US Open semifinals since the Open era began in 1968. With all that was at stake for both his career and the record books, Shelton said the match against Tiafoe was the greatest moment of his life.
Dancing with Djokovic
While Shelton was fighting for his first Grand Slam semifinal appearance, a familiar face added another to his resume. On Tuesday, No.2 Novak Djokovic beat No.9 Taylor Fritz in straight sets (6-1, 6-4, 6-4) to reach the semifinals. Although it seems Djokovic is winning all the time, this specific match made history. With 47 Grand Slam semifinal appearances, the Serbian is now the all-time leader in that category for men.
Top two and he's not two.
There's only 1⃣ Novak Djokovic. pic.twitter.com/6bss3f61hF
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 5, 2023
Shelton and Djokovic are set to meet Friday at a time yet to be determined. Novak, the 23-time Grand Slam winner, is favored to win, but Shelton believes his youth and inexperience are an advantage in this contest.
But apart from all else, Shelton is pumped to play against one of the best players in the world.