Ben Shelton reveals he wanted to make a statement to Novak Djokovic and the US Open crowd before he went down in three sets to the Serb at the US Open. In the US Open semifinal, Djokovic saw off 20-year-old Shelton 6-3 6-2 7-6 (4).
In the third set, Shelton twice recovered from a break down and even had a set point on Djokovic's serve in the 10th game. After easily losing the first two sets against Djokovic, Shelton was determined to do better in the third set.
“Okay, I may not win this match. But I want this guy to know—I want the crowd to know—that I’m here to play. And that I’m going to be back,” Shelton told GQ.
Shelton got praised by Djokovic
Shelton, who reached a career-high ranking of No 19 following his US Open semifinal run, is widely considered one of the most talented and promising players on the Tour.
After the match, Shelton earned praise from Djokovic. "Yeah, quite close ending to the match with crowd getting involved. So of course it wasn't easy, you know, to close this match out, but I'm really glad I did in three sets.
Didn't want to take this match to fourth set, that's for sure. Obviously I knew that he's got a lot of firepower. He has an amazing pop on the serve, he's just so dynamic and very unpredictable what comes next. I just had to stay there mentally, present, calm, and focus on the game plan and what I need to do and try to be solid from baseline, which for most of the match I have done and kind of made him play, made him uncomfortable," Djokovic said of Shelton.
At the US Open, Djokovic and Shelton were playing against each other for the first time. It remains to be seen if there will be another match between Shelton and Djokovic before the season ends.
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