US Open 2023: Djokovic punishes Shelton in search of 24 | Tennis | Sports

Hey, kid, don’t get carried away, Novak Djokovic insinuates in the final point, recreating the celebration that his young opponent did two nights ago. He hangs up an imaginary phone. It seems that there is some pending account that escapes the viewer. Or maybe not. Only they know. Trolling from the upstart, he charges it.

Hierarchical and incontestable, the veteran affirms with his gesture and comes to say that the old guard is still standing, that the work is done. Indeed, the break with the inexperienced Ben Shelton (6-3, 6-12 and 7-6(4), in 2h 39m) catapulted him to his tenth US Open final, thus equaling the record of local Bill Tilden, and validating the first half of the tournament script. He is already there, waiting for the second part of the story to be completed. The first semi-final does not offer any unexpected twist and Nole will burst into the outcome on Sunday (10:00 p.m. Spanish time) with a military step, without the need to force the machinery and having had to put out only one fire in the third round, when his compatriot Laslo Djere forced him to come back two sets. From there, a parade in a straight line in search of his 24th treasure.

“It’s about discipline and desire,” Djokovic instructs. “I feel like I can still contribute things to our sport,” concludes the winner, protagonist of another extraordinary season. With this final, 36th already in a major, shines the record and rounds off the annual plenary session: champion in Australia, the same in the arena of Roland Garros and bowing down to Carlos Alcaraz on the green of Wimbledon. He, doing his thing, gaining numbers. A Martian. It is not the first time he has caught the poker, previously obtained in 2015 and 2021.

This crossing with Shelton quickly translates into a mere formality. The American, 20 years old and debutant in the penultimate round of a major, immediately offers too many opportunities and shows that from a tactical point of view he is very green. He hits the ball very hard, but picks poorly too often. Messy, his chaotic proposal is candy for the seasoned Djokovic, who explores angles, polishes shots, attracts the youngster to the net and has fun; unbeatable red carpet towards the final for the Serbian, who closes the first set on the fourth attempt and wins the second without breaking a sweat. The North American collaborates with a double fault provided by the break. Little more than training for the Balkan.

American scourge

The roof of the Arthur Ashe is closed because the forecasts anticipate rain and the atmosphere is once again heavy in the center, where there is a full house and very little faith among the public that the boy – already among the twenty best in the world – is even capable of to tickle the giant. And so, in that format that suits his tennis so well, the indoor who practiced so much in that childhood in Belgrade and Munich, Djokovic puts the tie to the match and enters the tournament’s centenary club. He is already there along with Jimmy Connors (115 matches), Roger Federer (103) and Vic Seixas Jr (102), so he is happier than a castanet. The rival’s head bowed, very disoriented.

Logically, Shelton still has hours and hours of cooking left. All the ones that Nole has left over. He, 36 years old and tons of flying hours, really enjoys when there is an American on the other side of the network; He has had 30 wins since he lost against Sam Querrey at Wimbledon (2016) and there are 12 at Flushing Meadows, where a player of this nationality has never beaten him. In this last episode he flutters around the track with grace, knowing himself to be very superior, at times experimenting; So far above it is seen that in the final stretch he lifts his foot, and the relaxation generates an inconsequential knot because he annuls with an excellent serve the set point that Shelton has found, first, and the American lends a hand, later.

Dripping, with a rosy nose and shoulders mottled by cupping, the local tennis player naively negotiates the points and falls into the trap. Excited by youth, the celebrations of him putting his finger in his ear and digging his legs in front of the stands are interpreted on the other side of the trench as an unnecessary challenge. The great boss Djokovic has made him believe with the inaccuracies that he has some possibility of stretching the matter, but in the tiebreaker the Serbian puts things in their place: he eternalizes the service, balls and more balls in, that the error will come . Old fox. The entertainment is over.

Hay vendetta as a rubric: as Shelton did two days before, he pretends to hang up a phone before the icy greeting on the network. The young man looks at him. But not even a Nole passes.

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