Ben Shelton stuns Frances Tiafoe to set up US Open semi-final clash with Novak Djokovic


Ben Shelton, the unseeded 20-year-old from Florida, has reached his first Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open after defeating Frances Tiafoe in four sets on Tuesday night. Shelton, who played collegiate tennis for the Florida Gators, became the youngest American man to make the last four in New York since Michael Chang in 1992. He also made history as part of the first US Open quarter-final in the Open era featuring two African-American men.

Shelton showed his big-serving prowess and his composure under pressure as he overcame Tiafoe, the No. 10 seed and last year’s semi-finalist, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (9/7), 6-2 in a thrilling match at Arthur Ashe Stadium. He saved a set point in the third-set tie-break with a blistering inside-out forehand and then pulled away in the fourth set to seal the victory.

Ben Shelton stuns Frances Tiafoe to set up US Open semi-final clash with Novak Djokovic
Ben Shelton stuns Frances Tiafoe to set up US Open semi-final clash with Novak Djokovic

“It doesn’t get much better than that,” Shelton said of his performance. “I feel like I left it all out here tonight. It was an emotional battle.”

Shelton faces Djokovic for the first time in the semi-final

Shelton will now face the ultimate challenge in tennis as he takes on Novak Djokovic, the world No. 1 and 23-time Grand Slam champion, in the semi-final on Friday. Djokovic, who is chasing a calendar-year Grand Slam and a record-breaking 24th major title, cruised past Taylor Fritz in straight sets earlier on Tuesday to book his spot in the last four.

It will be the first meeting between Shelton and Djokovic, who has praised the young American’s rise from college tennis to the highest level of the sport. “It’s great that Ben Shelton, for example, a player that came from college tennis, is playing on the highest level, producing some amazing tennis,” Djokovic said before knowing the outcome of Shelton vs Tiafoe. “I think it’s a great message for all the players who want to go to college but then still keep on playing professionally. It proves that it is possible, which maybe up to 15, 20 years ago, it was completely different.”

Djokovic also indicated that he was looking forward to watching Shelton vs Tiafoe when he returned to his tournament base. He also declared that he was happy to keep taking on home favorites knowing that the crowd might not necessarily be on his side. “It’s expected that people are backing the home player,” Djokovic said. “There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Shelton’s remarkable run at Flushing Meadows

Shelton arrived at his second US Open with a tour-level record of 12-20 this season. He had failed to win multiple matches at any of the 18 ATP Tour events he had played since advancing to the quarter-finals in his Australian Open debut. Ten of his 17 victories in 2023 have now come at Grand Slams.

Shelton reached the second round at Wimbledon after losing his opening match at the French Open. He started his US Open campaign with a five-set win over No. 18 seed Jannik Sinner and then followed it up with another five-setter over No. 15 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime. He then beat No. 14 seed Tommy Paul in four sets in the fourth round, hitting two 149mph serves along the way.

Shelton is coached by his father and former professional Bryan Shelton, who reached a career-high ranking of No. 55 in 1992. The father-son duo have worked together since Ben was seven years old and have developed a strong bond on and off the court.

“I’m just so proud of him,” Bryan Shelton said after his son’s quarter-final win. “He’s worked so hard for this moment and he deserves it.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here