Reaching four Major semi-finals in a single season is an extraordinary feat reserved for the Open era finest players. Rod Laver and Tony Roche did that in 1969, with Ivan Lendl joining the list in 1987. Roger Federer stepped in in 2005, embracing five consecutive seasons with all four Major semi-finals!
Roger’s record seemed safe before Novak Djokovic arrived on the scene in 2011, achieving four semi-finals in four of the next five seasons. The Serb matched the Swiss’ record in 2021, having more good runs in his legs and moving in front at this year’s US Open!
Djokovic embraced his sixth season with four Major semi-finals in 2023, taking the record that will take some beating in the future. Novak conquered the Australian Open and Roland Garros before losing the Wimbledon final to Carlos Alcaraz, ending his dreams about winning the calendar Grand Slam.
However, Djokovic will seek his 24th Major crown in New York after advancing to his tenth US Open final.Novak faced the home star Ben Shelton in the semi-final and delivered a 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 triumph in two hours and 40 minutes.
The Serb played superb tennis in the opening two sets, reducing his rival to a couple of aces and taking charge in the rallies. Shelton sprayed too many mistakes, unable to follow the rival’s pace from the baseline. Djokovic lost the ground a bit in the third set’s second part, but it all came out nicely for him after winning the tie break.
Novak dominated after landing in the first serve, struggling on the second but defending four out of six break chances. The Serb created 14 break chances and seized five, enough to emerge at the top in straight sets. Djokovic tamed his strokes nicely and hit 28 winners and 25 unforced errors.
Shelton sprayed over 40 mistakes, giving his everything but finishing on the losing side in his first Major semi-final. Novak moved in front with a break at 3-2 in the opening set after Ben’s loose volley. Shelton denied four set points in game eight and prolonged the set.
Novak Djokovic is the first player with four Major semi-finals in six seasons.
The home star created a break chance in game nine, and Djokovic denied it to claim the opener 6-3 in 34 minutes.
The Serb dropped seven points behind the initial shot in the second set, breaking the American’s resistance in the second part. Shelton hit a double fault in the fifth game and pushed Djokovic 3-2 in front. The young gun squandered game points at 2-4 and fell on the third break point after Novak’s great net coverage.
Djokovic clinched the set with a service winner in game eight, opening a 6-3, 6-2 advantage in an hour and 18 minutes and marching toward the finish line. The Serb passed the American at the net in the third set’s first game, landing a forehand winner to clinch a break and move closer to the finish line.
Shelton denied a break point in game five, remaining one break behind and hoping for return chances. Ben finally showed something more on the return in the eighth game, coming from 30-15 behind and creating a break chance after Novak’s forehand error.Djokovic sent a backhand long to drop serve for the first time after two hours and one minute and bring the rival back to 4-4!
With a boost on his side, Ben held at 30 in the ninth game, playing with more energy and challenging Novak for the first time. Djokovic struggled again on serve in the tenth game, offering his rival a set point. Novak denied it with a powerful serve and held after two deuces to level the score at 5-5.
The more experienced player placed a backhand crosscourt winner in the 11th game, earning a break at 15 and serving for the victory at 6-5.Djokovic experienced issues for the third straight service game, presenting his rival two break chances.
Novak denied them in style before squandering a match point. Shelton seized the third break chance after Djokovic’s loose smash, sending the set into a tie break. Djokovic earned an early mini-break and moved 3-0 up with a volley winner at the net.
The Serb grabbed another mini-break in the fifth point following a brilliant return, moving 4-1 up and closer to the finish line. A volley winner sent a three-time winner 5-1 ahead before the American pulled one mini-break back with a forced error.
Shelton climbed back to 4-5 after the opponent’s error before Djokovic earned his second match point after a great point at the net.