Early Wednesday, Ben Shelton surprised everyone by defeating Frances Tiafoe, the No. 10 ranked tennis player in the world, in the US Open quarterfinals in four sets.
During the quarterfinals of the US Open, for the first time ever, two Black American men faced off. The 20-year-old Shelton emerged victorious with a score of 6-2 3-6 7-6(7) 6-2 against last year’s runner-up in New York.
Shelton, who is the youngest American male to advance to a US Open semifinal since Michael Chang at 20 years old in 1992, will face 23-time grand slam champion Novak Djokovic on Friday.
“I believe I gave everything I had tonight. It was an emotional battle,” Shelton stated following the game. “I am grateful to all of you for staying until late. The atmosphere was incredible, and your support helped me push through to the end.”
Shelton mentioned in the third-set tiebreaker that there are moments when you need to turn off your mind, shut your eyes, and simply take a swing. Despite being down a set point, this approach seemed to be effective in the end.
After winning, Shelton, the 2022 NCAA singles champion, will improve his ranking from No. 47 to the top 20 in the men’s world singles ranking.
Someone asked Shelton if he was aware of his next opponent.
Shelton commented on Djokovic’s impressive record, saying he has won around 23 of these tournaments. It is a tough competition, especially in the last two matches against fellow Americans. Shelton hopes for the same level of support in the upcoming match.