Novak Djokovic defeated American Ben Shelton 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (4) on Friday to tie his record-breaking 10th U.S. Open final. The tournament is one the 23-time Grand Slam champion missed last year due to not being vaccinated against COVID-19.
Shelton was overwhelmed in the first two sets, but the third set brought excitement. He improved his game significantly against Djokovic, who started making more mistakes as he saw the finish line approaching. Shelton broke serve twice, took the set point at 5-4 and saved the match point, then forced the game into a decider.
But the Serbian star ended up imposing his own hierarchy and mimicking Shelton’s celebratory gesture – mimicking hanging up the phone to end the conversation.
Djokovic, 36, will compete for his fourth title at Flushing Meadows on Sunday. He could become the oldest player to win a tournament in the Open era since 1968.
In the final, they will face defending champion Carlos Alcaraz (Djokovic’s executioner in July’s Wimbledon final) or 2021 US Open champion Daniil Medvedev.
If Djokovic lifts the trophy, he will break the record tied with Serena Williams for the most singles titles in the Open era.
No matter what happens on Sunday, No. 2 Djokovic will replace No. 1 Alcaraz at the top of the ATP rankings on Monday.