With him, the statistics evolve very quickly. The Serbian Novak Djokovic qualified without trembling, Friday September 8, for the tenth US Open final of his career – Bill Tilden’s record equaled – by beating the American Ben Shelton in three sets, 6-3, 6 -2, 7-6 (7/4).
He will try, on Sunday, against the title holder Carlos Alcaraz or the 2021 winner Daniil Medvedev, to win his 24e Grand Slam tournament to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record. The player, who is ured, at 36, of becoming world number 1 again at the end of the competition, is aiming for a fourth trophy at Flushing Meadows, where he has won three times (2011, 2015 and 2018). He also brings his record for Grand Slam finals to 36, now five lengths ahead of Roger Federer.
On Friday, the roof of the Arthur-Ashe court was closed preventively due to the risk of rain throughout the day and the air conditioning ensured a playable temperature. Against all expectations while facing an American, Djokovic was loudly applauded when he entered the court and during the presentation of the players.
Finalist in all four Grand Slam tournaments of 2023
Right off the bat, Shelton, 47e world, was very aggressive, especially on Djokovic’s second service balls. But the Serbian dominated the exchange and managed the break to lead 4-2. He confirmed at 5-2 on an ace. Then, after missing four set points on Shelton’s serve, the Serb concluded on his fifth, on his serve. In total in this first set, the American only won five points on Djokovic’s serve, including three in the last game.
Djokovic dominated the second set even more clearly by twice taking his opponent’s serve, his main weapon, without having to defend a single break point himself. Starting at 2-2, Djokovic won six games in a row to pocket the second set and pull away 2-0 in the third.
While Djokovic seemed to have won without any further resistance, Shelton nevertheless broke and regained confidence with some huge forehands and serves (including one at 145 mph, or 233 km/h). The Serb nevertheless served to win at 6-5 but, despite having a match point, he allowed Shelton to break the break by sending a smash into the net. Then he had another little scare in the tie-break where, leading 5/1, he let Shelton come back to 5/4 before concluding and offering himself a new final.
This is the third time in his career that Novak Djokovic has reached the finals of the four Grand Slam tournaments in the same season (after 2015 and 2021), winning at the Australian Open and Roland-Garros.
The World with AFP