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US Open ATP Betting Preview: Ben Shelton vs Novak Djokovic

September 8, 2023


Ben Shelton's fairytale run continues when the 20-year-old American faces Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the US Open semi-finals on Friday.

This will be their first meeting. However, we must keep in mind that Djokovic hasn't faced defeat at the hands of an American opponent at any level since a shock loss to Sam Querrey in the Wimbledon third round in 2016.

Ben Shelton Betting Preview (+900 at BetOnline)

Shelton had already faced the likes of Carlos Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the lead up to the US Open and he lost all sets against them, three of them in tiebreaks. They all were valuable lessons, though, as the 20-year-old American turned professional just about 13 months ago.

Remarkably, Shelton was ranked outside the top 500 as recently as May 2022 but his sensational results over the past year have catapulted him to the impressive No. 17 spot in the ATP live rankings. Moreover, with his fine form at Flushing Meadows, Shelton became the youngest American to reach the semifinals at the US Open since Michael Chang in 1992

He already reached his maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open in January and Shelton did not waste time to take the next step on home soil.

Impressively, the talented American youngster secured notable wins against well-rounded opponents like Dominic Thiem, Aslan Karatsev, Tommy Paul, and Frances Tiafoe en route to the semi-finals, showcasing his versatility on the court.

Shelton, who will celebrate his 21st birthday next month, has just claimed another big win over a fellow American at the US Open. First, he beat Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in the last-16 while he also defeated 10th-seeded Frances Tiafoe in the quarter-finals.

We strongly doubt that the American had a good sleep on the eve of his semi-final clash against Novak Djokovic but he'll need to stay focused and the home crowd will be backing him throughout.

However, in stark contrast with his standout performances on the Grand Slam stage, Shelton experienced difficulties at the ATP level during the same period. He had managed only seven main draw victories out of 18 ATP competitions he attended in 2023.

Meanwhile, another Serb ended Ben Shelton's debut at the Wimbledon Championships earlier this summer when Laslo Djere beat the American 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 in the second round.

Novak Djokovic Betting Preview (-1500 at BetOnline)

Bidding to claim his fourth US Open title, the Djoker was able to return to the United States for the first time since 2021 and his US Open final defeat to Daniil Medvedev. As a result, Djokovic proceeded to win his third Cincinnati Masters crown and a record-extending 39th Masters 1000 title.

He outlasted Carlos Alcaraz in a rematch of their spectacular Wimbledon final. His 5-7, 7-6, 7-6 comeback win over the Spaniard was the longest best-of-three-sets ATP Tour final and the longest match in Cincinnati Masters' history, at 3 hours and 49 minutes.

Djokovic's last triumph in New York dates back to 2018, and as the Serb approaches this Friday's semifinal, he boasts a formidable 9-3 record at this stage of the tournament.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion enjoyed a 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 win over top-ranked American Taylor Fritz at Arthur Ashe Stadium in the US Open quarter-finals on Tuesday.

By reaching a 47th Major semifinal, the 36-year-old Djokovic surpassed Roger Federer's all-time record. Thus, the Serb also became the oldest US Open men's semi finalist since American Jimmy Connors in 1991.

Other than his third-round match against fellow countryman Laslo Djere, Djokovic enjoyed (did he?) a smooth run to the semi-finals, with the Serb claiming a number of comfortable straight-sets wins over Alexandre Muller of France, Bernabé Zapata Miralles of Spain, Borna Gojo of Croatia and USA's Taylor Fritz.

Still Djokovic's 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 victory over Djere last weekend was the eighth two-set comeback of his glorious career and he therefore conserved as much energy as possible for the final matches.

By winning his first-round match against Muller, Djokovic reclaimed the world No. 1 position from Carlos Alcaraz but that's probably the least he cares about right now.

Spooky Express Betting Prediction

Ben Shelton's success has usually relied on his potent serving skills, but during this US Open campaign, the American has demonstrated that he's not a one-dimensional player.

Novak Djokovic, on the other hand, is widely regarded as the greatest returner of all time, normally handling big-serving players with ease.

Yet, there's a specific profile of a left-handed player with powerful serves and net skills that has posed challenges for Novak Djokovic in the past. Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic (who was Djokovic's potential fourth-round opponent here, but lost to Borna Gojo) boasts a positive head-to-head record (2-0) against the Serb and Shelton could draw inspiration from his style.

Having lost only one of his 26 hard-court matches this year (a 6-4, 6-4 defeat to Daniil Medvedev at the Dubai Tennis Championships in March), it's not only Djokovic's pedigree that makes him an overwhelming favorite to reach yet another Grand Slam final - 36th of his career.

Spooky Express Free Play: Over 3½ Sets +130 at BetOnline for 5/10 Units