Novak Djokovic mocks youngster Ben Shelton after US Open semi-final
Novak Djokovic beat Ben Shelton to seal a place in another US Open final – and he mocked his young rival after the final point by mimicking his match-winning celebration.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion appeared to be storming to a comfortable win as he claimed the first two sets against the big-serving American youngster.
Yet Shelton started hitting out in the third set and pushed Djokovic all the way as the New York crowd got behind the local hero.
Djokovic appeared agitated by the cheers for Shelton, with the American crowd stepping over the line as they cheered Djokovic’s missed first serves and rare errors.
Yet he prevailed in the tie-break to seal a 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (4) victory and looked less than amused when he copied Shelton’s habit of putting a phone down when he finishes a match.
Shelton has been criticised for being ‘too cocky’ with the celebration after his win against Frances Tiafoe in the last round and Djokovic was clearly keen to remind him that he still has a long way to go in the game before he can compete with the very best.
us when they call about our car’s extended warranty.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 8, 2023
Djokovic did not show too much emotion after the game and kept a steely face as he shared a brief handshake with Shelton.
He then conducted a post-match interview and appeared to forgive the fans for their rowdy behaviour during the match.
“You guys were amazing, thanks for coming out,” he told the huge audience inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. “These are the kind of matches and occasions that I still thrive on. That still get me going.
“Grand Slams are the ones that count the most in our sport,” he continued. “Today things were going really smoothly and he broke back and it was anybody’s game at the end of the third set.
“This is the kind of atmosphere that we all like to play in so I’m really pleased with the win today.”
Now Djokovic is one win away from a 24th major title and becoming the oldest winner in the Open era, surpassing Ken Rosewall who was 35 when he won the title in 1970.
“Look, these are the kind of matches and occasions that I still thrive on, that inspire me to wake up every day and work hard,” Djokovic said.
“Grand Slams are the most important, the ones that mean the most to me. Playing an American player is never easy and I had to hold my nerve. It was anybody’s game at the end of the third set. I’m really pleased with this win today.”
Looking ahead to his latest US Open final, Djokovic added: “I expect the toughest match of the tournament regardless of who is going to be across the net.
“I’ve achieved a lot but I still feel I have something in my legs left. I still feel I have something left to give to the sport.”
Shelton’s defeat will prolong America’s wait for a first home men’s champion since Andy Roddick in 2003 for at least another year.
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