Ben Shelton’s father claims that Novak Djokovic wanted to ‘mock’ his son by imitating his phone-slamming celebration after US Open semifinals win

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Ben Shelton’s father has suggested that Novak Djokovic had no other intentions but to ‘mock’ his son when he imitated his phone-slamming celebration after defeating the 20-year-old in the U.S. Open semifinals.

Speaking to GQ just five days after Djokovic defeated No. 3-ranked Daniiil Medvedev to win his fourth U.S. Open title, Bryan Shelton claimed the world’s No. 1 ‘wants to be loved so much’ that he had to copy his son, who was often cheered on by the home crowd due to the 20-year drought since an American man last won in New York.

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‘He wants to be loved so much, Novak…’ Bryan told the magazine as part of a lengthy feature on his son. 

‘He wanted to mock Ben at the end. It wasn’t something he was doing just to copy Ben. It was to mock him. And that’s too bad, for that to come from such a great champion.’ 

Djokovic won the first two sets against Shelton,  6-3 6-2, before going toe-to-toe against the youngster in the third (7-6), which was decided by a tiebreaker (7-4 for Djokovic) 

Ben Shelton's father - Bryan (R) - said Novak Djokovic copied his son's celebration to be loved

Ben Shelton’s father – Bryan (R) – said Novak Djokovic copied his son’s celebration to be loved 

Novak Djokovic copies Shelton's phone-slamming celebration after his US Open semifinals win

Novak Djokovic copies Shelton’s phone-slamming celebration after his US Open semifinals win

The Serb, 36, won his fourth U.S. Open title earlier this month to take his grand slam tally to 24

The Serb, 36, won his fourth U.S. Open title earlier this month to take his grand slam tally to 24 

Shelton does his phone celebration after his quarterfinals matchup against Frances Tiafoe

Shelton does his phone celebration after his quarterfinals matchup against Frances Tiafoe

After the final point, Djokovic mimicked picking up the phone and slamming it down, which is the same celebration that Shelton used after his upset of Francis Tiafoe in the previous round. 

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‘I just love Ben’s celebration,’ Djokovic said after the semifinal win. ‘I thought he was very original and I copied him. I stole his celebration.’ 

To Ben’s credit, he didn’t take the gesture as personally as his father did. 

‘I don’t like when I’m on social media, and I see people telling me how I can celebrate or can’t celebrate,’ said the Atlanta, Georgia, native, adding: ‘If you win the match, you deserve to do whatever you want.’

‘As a kid, I always learned that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.’ 

Shelton starred at the University of Florida with dad-coach Bryan before going pro last year

Shelton starred at the University of Florida with dad-coach Bryan before going pro last year

Although he didn’t defy the odds by defeating Djokovic, Shelton, who only turned pro last year, said he recalled the way in which he approached the third set against the Serb and how it helped him go neck-to-neck against one of the best players of all time.

‘Okay, I may not win this match,’ Shelton remembers thinking. ‘But I want this guy to know—I want the crowd to know—that I’m here to play. And that I’m going to be back.’

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Shelton, who starred at the University of Florida, is looking to build on his breakout year and is being tipped to become the first male breakout star of US tennis since Andy Roddick. He spoke to GQ about the pressure of always being in the public eye.

‘At the U.S. Open, the camera and the mic are always there,’ Shelton said. ‘You go into the gym, they’re following you. I’m talking with Coco [Gauff] after we both won our match, there’s a mic above our head.’

‘You don’t really have a safe space where people aren’t watching, Every once in a while, you say something you wish you didn’t. And you just look at the camera that’s caught you, it’s in your head a little bit.’ 

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