Prior to the start of this year’s US Open, it was highly anticipated that the semifinalists in the men’s draw would consist of three of the top players.
Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, and Daniil Medvedev have all previously reached this stage. Each of them has achieved at least one grand slam victory and they currently hold the top three spots in the world rankings.
Next, we have up-and-coming American player Ben Shelton. To be honest, not many expected the 20-year-old to reach this stage in New York, but his spot in the semifinals was well-deserved.
Using his strong serve and impressive ground strokes, the current 47th-ranked player in the world has shown great promise to join the top players in the sport. However, he will need to elevate his game even further to secure a spot in the final.
How to watch
At 3 p.m. ET on Friday, Djokovic and Shelton will begin playing in the Arthur Ashe Stadium, followed by Medvedev’s match against Alcaraz.
American viewers can tune in to ESPN for full coverage of the events, while those in the UK can catch the matches on Sky Sports.
Djokovic vs. Shelton
After defeating fellow countryman Frances Tiafoe in the previous round, Shelton arranged a match against arguably the best player to ever compete in the sport, Djokovic.
The Serbian is bidding to win his fourth US Open title and his 24th grand slam overall. Once again, he’s been in superior form at the tournament and will likely test Shelton like he’s never been tested before as they meet for the first time.
Shelton is relying on the support of his home crowd to potentially shock some spectators in the upcoming semifinal on Friday.
Shelton confessed that when facing an opponent for the first time, the thought of their previous successes may linger in the mind of the player.
I believe it’s beneficial for my style of play to face someone who has never played against me before.
“I believe I can contribute unique elements that you may not typically encounter in your usual matches.”
Shelton has had an exceptionally impressive year since his initial appearance at the US Open last year, where he was defeated in the opening round.
In the following year, he achieved a spot in the top 100 rankings in the world without competing in any international tournaments. He then began his 2023 season with a successful quarterfinal appearance at the Australian Open.
Under the guidance of his father, the child has consistently grown and is now the youngest American male to advance to a singles semifinal since 1992.
Shelton informed reporters that he believes his mental capabilities have progressed more than his physical abilities while discussing his personal growth.
“I have had many opportunities to go to my designated location today and inform my team that I am exhausted and unsure if I can continue.”
“I reassured myself, ‘I am okay and he is also experiencing it.’ I believe being able to change your perspective is a major part of overcoming the challenge.”
On Friday, Djokovic will be the top choice to advance in his 47th grand slam semifinal, though he will likely have to put in considerable effort.
The easygoing Shelton, who is 16 years younger than his rival, has no pressure and will have the freedom to challenge Djokovic.
As the “intense” temperatures continue to challenge players during this phase of the competition, experienced player Djokovic understands the importance of strategizing for a tough match.
“I must use a different approach than what I did 10 years ago,” he informed reporters as he adjusts his game at 36 years old.
As a father of two kids, there are many events in my personal life that impact my mental and emotional well-being. These happenings occur outside of the court and are a natural part of my life.
“I require knowledge on how to manage and develop a functional formula for all of these tasks. Currently, everything appears to be going well.”
Medvedev vs. Alcaraz
In the second semifinal match, top-ranked Alcaraz will compete against third-seeded Medvedev from Russia.
The duo has emerged victorious in the previous two US Open championships, with Alcaraz winning last year and Medvedev in 2021. They have displayed impressive form in the past two weeks.
Alcaraz of Spain will face the added burden of defending his title as reigning champion, but he has been able to adapt to this pressure over the last year.
In 2022, his victory at Flushing Meadows solidified the Spaniard’s status as a worldwide sensation, and he has since become a top choice to win in nearly every tournament he enters.
“Last year, I was facing my first semifinal of a grand slam. Now, I’m facing my fourth one,” Alcaraz told reporters.
“I believe I have transformed into a different player. I now possess a greater level of maturity and am able to handle pressure more effectively.”
Meanwhile, Medvedev has been in the game for a longer time, but he is currently riding a wave of momentum in the past few weeks.
Following a disappointing elimination in the third round of the Australian Open, the 27-year-old athlete has improved his performance and has achieved victory in five tournaments in 2023.
Despite facing challenges from the intense heat in his seminfinal match against Andrey Rublev, Medvedev is delivering impressive performances and appears to be a formidable opponent for Alcaraz.
According to Medvedev, tennis and life can be unpredictable and disappointing at times.
“The following day brings new opportunities for good things to occur.”