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US Open: Ben Shelton says he’s ready for Novak Djokovic challenge | Tennis News

US Open: Ben Shelton says he’s ready for Novak Djokovic challenge | Tennis News

Ben Shelton is calling New York. The 20-year-old’s celebration statement, where he makes a telephone gesture, once, twice, before hanging up, signals intent. As if his play doesn’t.
Shelton, a face that could launch a 100 superfood commercials and a serve that can break a brick wall, clinched the historic match-up between two black men – the left-hander pitted against the 10th-seeded Frances Tiafoepopularly called Big Foe, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-2 – in a night match at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The conditions were hot and humid, and the tennis was tropical. “It’s like I’m saying I’m dialed in,” Shelton said of his celebratory routine.

“I’m close friends with a lot of track and field athletes, one in particular, Grant Holloway, who has won the World Championships three times in a row now, that’s his signature thing.”
Shelton, tennis’ most riveting storyline, is the 2022 American collegiate singles champion. He turned pro a little over a year ago, and earlier this year got his passport stamped for the first time. The American, playing only his fifth Grand Slamtakes on the 23-time major winner Novak Djokovic in the semifinals on Friday.
The 6ft 4′ left-hander, who reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Openwon just eight matches at Tour-level this season, before powering into the semifinals in New York. Ranked No.47, Shelton will break into the top-20 after this run, almost ruined it for himself in the third set tiebreak, when he sent down two double-faults at set point.


“It was a physical battle, you have Frances Tiafoe and you have the weather. Both of us were finishing points fairly tired,” Shelton said. “I had a set point at 6-5, went up to the line with heavy legs and ended up double faulting two times. At down set point, I needed to let a little bit of that frustration out. There was just so much stress. So sometimes you have to shut off the brain, close your eyes and just swing. It ended up working out for me.” Friday will be Shelton’s first meeting with the 36-year-old second seed.


“I think whenever you play somebody for the first time and someone, who has been in this situation so many times and comes out victorious so many times, that’s in the back of your head,” said Shelton, whose favourite subject in school was math. “He is rock solid, so tough mentally and physically. That’s definitely something that I have to gameplan for.”
“I also think that it’s an advantage with my style, playing someone who’s never played me before. I can bring some things to the table that maybe you don’t see in your normal match on the ATP Tour,” Shelton said. “I’m going to try to bring some things that are disruptive.”

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