Ben Shelton defeats Tiafoe, set to face Djokovic in U.S. Open semifinal

01:25 06.09.2023

In a historic night for American tennis, the U.S. Open quarterfinal match showcased two young Black men, Frances Tiafoe and Ben Shelton, who brought a renewed sense of excitement to the tournament. These two rising stars, each with their own unique backgrounds, captivated the crowd and reminded everyone of the sport's deep roots in the country.

Frances Tiafoe, the 25-year-old veteran, hails from a humble background as the son of a maintenance man at a tennis center in suburban Maryland. On the other hand, Ben Shelton, only 20 years old, comes from a tennis family, with his father being a former top-60 tour pro and highly regarded college coach. Despite their different paths, these two players have formed a close bond over the past year, with Tiafoe mentoring Shelton through his first season as a professional.

Shelton, known for his powerful lefty serves and forehands that have become the talk of the tournament, had long yearned for the opportunity to face Tiafoe at the U.S. Open. However, he knew he was up against a formidable opponent. Tiafoe, respected for his skills on and off the court, presented a significant challenge. The stage was set for an intense battle between these two talented athletes.

As the match unfolded on a hot and humid night at Arthur Ashe Stadium, the tension in the air was palpable. The crowd remained engaged and energized, defying the late hour. Tiafoe and Shelton traded blows, each refusing to back down. Shelton took an early lead, showcasing his experience and composure. Tiafoe, however, refused to be defeated easily. He fought back, employing a strategic approach to wear down his opponent.

The pivotal moment came during the third-set tiebreaker, as Shelton was on the verge of victory. However, two consecutive double faults allowed Tiafoe to reclaim control. The match teetered on the edge once more, with both players desperately vying for the upper hand. In a remarkable display of power and precision, Shelton unleashed a thunderous forehand return that found its mark, leaving Tiafoe stunned and unable to react. This pivotal moment swung the momentum firmly in Shelton's favor, ultimately securing him the set and, in essence, the match.

With a break of Tiafoe's serve early in the fourth set, Shelton maintained his dominance, never allowing his opponent to regain his footing. As the final points were played, the realization set in that Shelton had emerged victorious, prevailing over Tiafoe with a 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-2 victory. The emotional and hard-fought battle left both players drained but satisfied with their performance.

Looking ahead, Shelton's journey at the U.S. Open continues as he prepares to face the formidable Novak Djokovic, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, in the semifinals. Reflecting on his upcoming challenge, Shelton expressed his excitement, acknowledging that it doesn't get any better than this. The nation eagerly awaits to see if Shelton can defy the odds once again and make history in American tennis.

This memorable night at the U.S. Open, where two young Black men showcased their talent and determination, served as a reminder of the sport's significance in the country. The Davis Cup, the national team event, is a testament to America's rich tennis legacy. Tiafoe and Shelton's remarkable performance rekindled the spirit of American tennis, leaving a lasting impact on the sport's landscape.

/ Wednesday, September 6, 2023, 1:25 AM /

themes:  Maryland

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