Prior to the start of this year’s US Open, it was widely anticipated that three out of the four semifinalists in the men’s draw would be predicted.
Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, and Daniil Medvedev have all previously reached this level. Each of them has achieved at least one grand slam victory and they currently hold the top three positions in the world rankings.
Ben Shelton, a young American with high hopes, has surprised many by reaching the semifinals in New York. It is clear that his success has been well-earned and not just a stroke of luck.
Using his strong serve and impressive ground strokes, the player ranked 47th in the world has shown that he has the ability to compete with the top players in the sport. However, he will need to elevate his game even further in order to secure a spot in the final.
How to watch
Novak Djokovic and Jack Shelton will begin the match in Arthur Ashe Stadium at 3 p.m. ET on Friday, followed by Daniil Medvedev facing Carlos Alcaraz.
In the United States, viewers can tune in to ESPN for live coverage of all the events, while Sky Sports will air the matches in the United Kingdom.
Djokovic vs. Shelton
After defeating fellow countryman Frances Tiafoe in the previous round, Shelton arranged a match with possibly the best player in the history of the game, Djokovic.
Serbian player is aiming for his fourth US Open win and his 24th Grand Slam victory. He has been performing exceptionally well in the tournament and is expected to give Shelton a challenging match, as this will be their first encounter.
Shelton is counting on the support of his home crowd to potentially shock some onlookers during Friday’s semifinal.
“I believe that when facing someone for the first time, the thought of their past successes can linger in your mind,” Shelton confessed.
I believe that my game style gives me an advantage when playing against someone who has never faced me before.
“I believe I can offer unique contributions that may not be apparent in your usual partner.”
In the past year, Shelton has had a remarkably successful time since his first appearance at the US Open last year, where he was defeated in the opening round.
He achieved a spot in the top 100 rankings worldwide in the same year without competing in any tournaments outside of the US. He then began his 2023 season by reaching the quarterfinals at the Australian Open.
Under the guidance of his father, the young player has consistently progressed and has now become the youngest American male to reach a singles semifinal since 1992.
Shelton spoke to reporters about his growth and noted that he believes his mental abilities have progressed more than his physical abilities.
I have had numerous opportunities today to go to my box and express my exhaustion and inability to continue.
“I reassured myself, ‘I am okay and he is also struggling.’ I believe the ability to change your perspective is a major step towards overcoming the situation.”
On Friday, Djokovic will be competing in his 47th grand slam semifinal and is expected to be the frontrunner. However, he will undoubtedly face a tough challenge.
Shelton, who is 16 years younger than his opponent, is carefree and has nothing to lose. This gives him the freedom to take on Djokovic aggressively.
As the tournament progresses and the intense heat challenges players, experienced Djokovic is aware that he must strategize for a tough fight.
“I need to adjust my approach compared to how it was 10 years ago,” he informed reporters when discussing how he has adapted his game at the age of 36.
As a father of two kids, various personal matters outside of my sports career greatly impact my mental and emotional well-being.
“I require the knowledge to manage these tasks and devise a functional equation. Currently, everything seems to be going well.”
Medvedev vs. Alcaraz
In the upcoming semifinal match, top-ranked player Alcaraz will compete against third-seeded Russian Medvedev.
The duo has claimed the past two US Open championships, with Alcaraz winning last year and Medvedev in 2021. They have both displayed strong performances in the last fortnight.
Alcaraz from Spain will face the added challenge of defending his title, but he has adapted to this pressure within the last year.
In 2022, his victory at Flushing Meadows solidified the Spaniard’s status as a world-renowned superstar. He has now become a top contender and often the favored player in all of his tournaments.
“According to Alcaraz, I was in my first grand slam semifinal last year. Currently, I am preparing for my fourth one,” the athlete shared with journalists.
“I feel like a completely transformed player. I have grown in maturity and am able to handle pressure more effectively.”
On the other hand, Medvedev has been active for a longer period of time, and is currently riding a strong wave of momentum in the past few weeks.
Following a disappointing elimination in the third round of the Australian Open, the 27-year-old has improved his performance and has achieved five victories thus far in 2023.
Medvedev, despite facing intense heat in his semifinal match against Andrey Rublev, continues to deliver impressive performances and poses a serious challenge to Alcaraz.
Medvedev expressed that the nature of tennis also reflects the unpredictability of life, where unexpected events can lead to disappointment. He shared this with reporters.
“Each day brings new opportunities for good things to happen.”