Novak Djokovic bests Ben Shelton in 3 sets to reach U.S. Open men’s final, 1 win away from 24th slam title

Novak Djokovic bested Ben Shelton in straight sets 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (4) Friday to reach the U.S. Open final. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Djokovic dominated the first two sets, losing just five games and breaking Shelton’s serve three times.
  • Down 5-6 in the third set, Shelton broke Djokovic’s serve to stay alive in the match, forcing a tiebreaker. But it wasn’t enough, as Djokovic won the tiebreaker 7-4 to secure the match.
  • The 36-year-old is into the 10th U.S. Open final and 36th Grand Slam final of his career.
  • With a win on Sunday, Djokovic will have 24 Grand Slam titles. He awaits the winner of Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev, who play in the second semifinal at 7 p.m. ET on Friday.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

How Djokovic did it

Through two sets, probably the best way to describe Djokovic’s game is mechanical. He made few mistakes, handled Shelton’s serve well enough to break him multiple times and took care of business on his own serve. The match looked like it might end fairly quickly.

But Shelton, to his credit, didn’t sag, even when he lost the first game of the third set on his serve. When Djokovic had a chance to serve out the match up 6-5, Shelton managed to force a tiebreak, much to the home crowd’s delight. Djokovic won five of the first six points, in the tiebreak, though, ultimately holding on to advance to Sunday’s final. — Kurz

What they’re saying

“You know I’ve been blessed to really play this sport for so many years, and I’ve achieved a lot, but I still feel I have something in my legs left,” Djokovic said in his on-court post-match interview. “I still feel I have something to give to the sport. Another Grand Slam finals, I cannot be happier obviously with where I am.”

Required reading

(Photo: Robert Deutsch / USA Today)

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