Ben Shelton came out on top in an all-American quarterfinal at the 2023 U.S. Open on Tuesday, besting Frances Tiafoe 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-2. Here’s what you need to know:
- Shelton, 20, advances to his first major semifinal with the win.
- He will meet Novak Djokovic on Friday after the 23-time Grand Slam winner beat American Taylor Fritz earlier Tuesday.
- Tiafoe, 25, was aiming to return to the semifinals after his breakthrough run in New York last year. He has never advanced past the quarterfinals of another Slam.
Who is Ben Shelton? Meet the U.S. Open’s new American phenom
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
How is Shelton doing this?
He apparently has a knack for big moments. After turning pro last year, he made the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in January and, now, the semifinals at the U.S. Open on the strength of a gigantic serve, a developing all-around game, and a confidence and resolve that goes beyond his 20 years. That last part was evident in the defining moment of the match Tuesday. In the third-set tiebreak, Shelton double-faulted twice at 6-5 to go from set-point up to set-point down, then ripped a return winner on Tiafoe’s serve, won the next point on Tiafoe’s serve too and finished it off back on his serve for a two-sets-to-one lead. He then broke Tiafoe’s first service game of the fourth set and never looked back.
He’s just 8-20 in all other matches this year, never winning more than one match at any other ATP tournament in 2023. But he won’t care about that now. At two of the four majors this year, he has more than met the moment. — Pierce
What does this mean for Shelton?
First, a date with Djokovic. Shelton will be a sizable underdog, but how do you even quantify that with a 20-year-old on the kind of run Shelton is on? He’ll have the crowd firmly on his side and nothing to lose when they play Friday. It’ll be a monumental task, but no matter what happens, he’ll be a top-20 player thanks to the rankings points from this event. If he beats Djokovic, he’ll jump into the top 15 — and, of course, play for a U.S. Open title Sunday. — Pierce
Highlight of the match
Ben Shelton absolutely bringing the highlights tonight! pic.twitter.com/xogqq0fTn6
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 6, 2023
What they’re saying
Shelton said he felt like he “left it all out there” in the win, calling the match an “emotional battle.” He thanked the late-night crowd for “pushing him over the line.”
Shelton, ranked No. 47 in the world, broke the No. 10-ranked Tiafoe to go up 3-2 in the first set, then prevailed in a hard-fought tiebreaker in the third.
Shelton defeated Pedro Cachin, Dominic Thiem, Aslan Karatsev and Tommy Paul in Flushing Meadows before Tiafoe. The former Florida Gator is the youngest American man to reach a major semifinal since Andy Roddick in 2003 and the youngest at the U.S. Open since Michael Chang in 1992.
(Photo: Danielle Parhizkaran / USA Today)