Novak Djokovic earned himself another shot at a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title after beating unseeded American Ben Shelton in straight sets on Friday to advance to his 10th US Open final.
Djokovic ended the run of the 20-year-old Shelton, winning 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) to set up a potential repeat of his Wimbledon final against Carlos Alcaraz, who faces Daniil Medvedev in the other semi-final.
“Another Grand Slam final. I cannot be happier with where I am,” said Djokovic, who signed off victory in his 100th US Open match by imitating Shelton’s hang-up-the-phone celebration.
“I expect the toughest match of the tournament for me, regardless of who’s going to be across the net.”
The 36-year-old Djokovic is attempting to become the oldest men’s champion in New York in the Open era, which would also see him match Margaret Court’s all-time mark for most major singles titles.
The Serbian, who will return to number one in the world after the tournament, has now won 22 of his last 23 Grand Slam semi-finals. He captured the last of his three US Open titles in 2018.
Djokovic has reached the final at all four majors in the same year for the third time. He will try to claim three Grand Slams in the same season for the fourth time in his career.
“These are kind of matches and occasions that I still thrive on, that still get me going, inspire me to wake up every day trying to work as hard as the young guys,” he said.
“Grand Slams are the ones that count the most in our sport. They are the ones that motivate me the most to be able to play my best tennis.”
– Consistent Djokovic too strong –
Facing Shelton for the first time, with the roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium closed due to the threat of rain, Djokovic landed the first blow by breaking for a 4-2 lead in the opening set.
Shelton showed tremendous grit to save four set points on his serve at 2-5, carving out a point to break back the next game only for Djokovic to see out the set at the fifth time of asking.
The world number 47 pushed a forehand wide to present Djokovic with two break points at 2-2 in the second set, coughing up an untimely double fault to again gift his rival the upper hand.
Djokovic pressed home his advantage with a second break and surged two sets clear after Shelton buried a backhand return into the net.
A passing forehand winner gave Djokovic another break to open the third set, but Shelton put up a late act of defiance to break back for 4-all and even conjured a set point in the 10th game.
Djokovic produced a clutch serve out wide on the way to a battling hold, punishing Shelton for a sloppy ensuing game but then stumbling himself with the finish in sight.
Shelton saved a match point to break and send the set to a tie-break before Djokovic hauled himself over the line and into a 36th Grand Slam final.