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Novak Djokovic has fired warning to US Open sensation ahead of showdown

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Novak Djokovic sent an ominous warning to Ben Shelton ahead of their US Open clash after making tennis history at Flushing Meadows.

The Serbian comprehensively defeated Taylor Fritz 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 to move into his 47th Grand Slam semifinal – the most of any male player in history – and 13th at Flushing Meadows. On Friday he will face the 20-year-old who overcame American compatriot Francis Tiafoe in four sets to reach the last four of a major for the first time.

During his on court interview after securing victory, the 36-year-old, who has overcome crowds supporting his opponent plenty of times before, has no problem doing it again against Shelton. “It’s expected that people are backing the home player,” Djokovic warned.

“There’s nothing wrong with that. I actually like the energy. I’m fine with that. I actually thrive on that energy. Whatever the energy is, I use it as fuel.” He added: “I like the energy and the atmosphere on the court here. I thrive on that energy, whatever the energy is, use it as as fuel to try and play my best tennis.

Novak Djokovic
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – May 29, 2023 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in action during his first round match against Aleksandar Kovacevic of the U.S. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

“I have been playing on this court for so many years, so many epic matches. I can’t wait for another one in a few days time.” Competing in the 34-degree heat at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Djokovic broke Fritz’s serve six times. The American No.1, who has yet to defeat a top 10 player at a major, had lost serve just once in the tournament before their quarterfinal encounter.

The second seed capitalised on his opponent’s lowly 55% first serve percentage and hit with deadly precision and depth throughout the match. Fritz managed to break Djokovic’s serve but each time was unable to consolidate it, and the 23-time Grand Slam champion went on to complete the win in two hours and 34 minutes.

“I’m going to be playing another American I gotta be ready for whatever is going to come my way from the opposite side of the net,” Djokovic said. “Both Tiafoe and Shelton are very charismatic…It’s going to be a joy watching them and let’s see what happens on Friday.”

Novak Djokovic
Marco Alpozzi/LaPresse November 15, 2021 Turin (Italy) Sport Tennis Nitto ATP Finals – men’s singles – Round Robin Novak Djokovic Vs Casper Ruud In the pic: Novak Djokovic (Serbia)

Shelton, who is playing in just his second US Open, will enter the top 20 for the first time following his run to the semi-finals in New York. He saved set points in the third set tiebreak against Tiafoe following consecutive double faults.

He saved one of them with a thunderous forehand down the line, before clinching the set two points later. Shelton would dominate the fourth set and his 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-2 victory saw him become the youngest American since Michael Chang in 1992 to reach the US Open semi-finals.

“Sometimes you have to shut off the brain, close the eyes and just swing,” Shelton said after securing the biggest win of his career so far. “Maybe there was a little bit of that down set point, but it ended up working out. I felt like I left it all out here tonight. It was an emotional battle.”

 

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