Ben Shelton’s father hits back at Novak Djokovic over ‘mocking’ US Open celebration

A happy Novak Djokovic

Ben Shelton’s father and coach has responded to Novak Djokovic imitating his son’s celebration following the pair’s clash at the 2023 US Open.

Bryan Shelton claimed Djokovic “wants to be loved so much” and expressed his disappointment that “such a great champion” chose to “mock” his son.

After Shelton’s four-set US Open quarter-final victory over countryman Frances Tiafoe, he celebrated by making a telephone gesture with his hand and pretending to hang it up.

In the semi-finals, eventual champion Djokovic downed Shelton in straight sets and reacted to sealing the win by mimicking the American’s phone celebration. The handshake that followed between the pair at the net appeared frosty.

In his post-match press conference, the Serbian said: “I just love Ben’s celebration. I thought it was very original. And I copied him. I stole his celebration.”

Shelton, who claimed he had not seen the world No 1’s imitation on court, also gave his thoughts after the match.

“I think if you win the match, you deserve to do whatever you want. You know, 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,” declared the 20-year-old.

Speaking in an interview with GQ Sports, Bryan Shelton did not seem to be best pleased with the 24-time Grand Slam champion’s celebration.

“He wants to be loved so much, Novak. He wanted to mock Ben at the end. It wasn’t something he was doing just to copy Ben. It was to mock him. And that’s too bad, for that to come from such a great champion,” said the 57-year-old.

The coach, a former world No 55 who won two singles titles, also discussed how Shelton used his difficult run between the Australian Open and US Open.

“It’s how you take those experiences and learn from them. I think that he’s done that so well. Each loss only motivated him to work harder and to reflect and examine the parts of his game that he has to continue to improve,” reflected the American.

Following his surprise run to the Australian Open quarter-finals in January, Shelton, remarkably, did not win back-to-back matches at any tour event until winning five at the US Open.

Shelton has climbed to a career-high ranking of world No 19 this week after his semi-final showing in New York.

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