(Tennis news) The three-time champion showed why he is regarded as the best returner of all time while competing in his 100th match at the hard-court major. After two hours and forty minutes of play, the Serbian defeated the 20-year-old Shelton, who was the youngest American to get to the last four since Michael Chang in 1992. The Serbian displayed excellent anticipation and handling skills to break Shelton’s powerful serve.
“These are the kinds of matches and occasions that I still thrive on and get me going and inspire me every day to try and work as hard as the young guys,” Djokovic said. “The Grand Slams are the ones that motivate me the most to play my best tennis, perform my best tennis. I knew prior to the quarter-finals that I would play an American player and that is never easy. To control the nerves and be composed in the moments that matter. Today things were going really smoothly for me and then he broke back and it was anyone’s game at the end of the third set. This is the kind of atmosphere we all like to play in, so I am really, really pleased with this win today.”
Djokovic has now advanced to the final in all four majors in the same season for the third time in his career (2015, ’21), breaking Shelton five times. Additionally, the 36-year-old persisted in his attempt to break the record for the oldest man to win the US Open singles championship in the Open Era (since 1968). In 1970, at the age of 35, Ken Rosewall won at Flushing Meadows.
“Discipline is everything. I think it is a combination of discipline, will power and clarity of what you want to do,” Djokovic said on reaching his 36th major final. “What your short and long-term goals are. I have been pleased to play this sport for many years and have achieved a lot. I still feel I have something in my legs left. I feel I still have a lot to give to the sport. Another Grand Slam final, I can’t be happier.”
Four titles, including significant victories at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, have been won by Djokovic in 2023. He will compete on Sunday against Carlos Alcaraz or Daniil Medvedev for a record-extending 24th Slam championship. In the Wimbledon championship, Djokovic, who has an 87-13 record at the US Open, was defeated by Alcaraz.
“I expect it to be the toughest match of the tournament despite who is going to be across the net from me,” Djokovic said. “Both of them are amazing players. They are in great form. Daniil won against me in the final a couple of years ago. He has probably been the most consistent player at the US Open in the past five years. Then you have Carlos. What he has achieved at 20 years of age is incredible. He is an amazing player and great for our sport. It is going to be an enjoyable match for me to watch.”
Shelton made his Grand Slam debut at the Australian Open in January and advanced to the quarterfinals, but before travelling to New York, he had lost 18 straight matches at tournaments on the tour. Shelton demonstrated his abilities at the season’s final major, armed with a lethal serve, a destructive game, and youthful freedom.
The 20-year-old, who is ranked fourth in the 2019 Pepperstone ATP Live Race to Jeddah, defeated Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe against the odds by serving twice at 149 mph to the former to advance to the US Open semifinals for the first time since Grigor Dimitrov.
Shelton, a University of Florida student, was unable to defeat Djokovic in their first Head2Head match, though. The Serbian swiftly adapted to Shelton’s left-handed serve, coping with the tempo and variety of spins the American threw at the 20-year-old to make him engage in baseline exchanges.
At the start of the second set, the 20-year-old blasted a 143 mph second serve to hold for a 1-0 lead while also nailing numerous blazing forehands and precise volleys. Shelton fought back after falling behind 2-4 in the third set to earn a set point at 4-5 on Djokovic’s serve.
However, Shelton found it difficult to convert his miraculous bursts of consistency into extended stretches of consistency, and the second seed ended it with a strong first serve. In the tie-break, Djokovic increased his intensity after squaring the match at 5-5 and overcame his failure to serve out the match at 6-5 to secure his 44th victory of the year.
In a steady performance beneath the dome of Arthur Ashe Stadium, Djokovic won 88 percent (23/26) of net points, struck 28 winners compared to 25 unforced mistakes, and claimed 84% (56/67) of his first-serve points.
After defeating Taylor Fritz in the quarterfinals, the 36-year-old also increased his winning streak against Americans to 31 games. At Wimbledon in 2016, when Sam Querrey defeated him in four sets, Djokovic suffered his most recent loss to an American.
Shelton moved up 28 places in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings after leaving New York, reaching No. 19. On Monday, he is expected to become the first player to enter the Top 20.