Novak Djokovic imitates Ben Shelton’s ‘hang up the phone’ taunt at US Open – but upstart American isn’t upset: ‘If you win, you deserve to do whatever’
- Shelton said of Djokovic: ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’
- Djokovic beat Shelton in straight sets (6-3, 6-2, 7-6) in Queens on Friday night
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Ben Shelton has no issue with Novak Djokovic borrowing his ‘dialed in’ victory celebration.
The upstart American had been punctuating wins en route to the US Open semis by miming the use of a telephone. But, after falling to Djokovic in straight sets (6-3, 6-2, 7-6) in Queens on Friday night, Shelton was on the receiving end of the ‘dialed in’ taunt.
When asked if he took offense, the 20-year-old Shelton denied having any hard feelings.
‘I didn’t see it until after the match,’ Shelton told reporters. ‘I don’t like when I’m on social media and I see people telling me how I can or can’t celebrate,’ the Atlanta native continued.
‘If you win the match you deserve to do whatever you want. As a kid growing up, I always learned that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.’
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning his semifinal match against Ben Shelton
Ben Shelton has no issue with Novak Djokovic borrowing his ‘dialed in’ victory celebration
Djokovic limited the big-serving Shelton to five aces and broke him five times in their US Open semifinal Friday.
The Serbian legend pushed back when the unseeded American produced a late stand that got the home crowd into the match.
And after overcoming what he called ‘a little black hole’ caused by tension to right himself, finish off the straight-set victory and reach his record-tying 10th final at Flushing Meadows and 36th at all major tournaments, Djokovic added a touch of insult to injury by mimicking the kid’s ‘Hang up the phone!’ celebration gesture.
Djokovic then pointed to his temple and pounded his fist on his chest, before a stone-faced Shelton met him at the net for the most perfunctory of handshakes.
A year after Djokovic could not travel to the United States for the Open because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19, the 36-year-old from Serbia is one victory away from a fourth title in New York and 24th Grand Slam championship overall.
Ben Shelton celebrates after winning his quarterfinal match against Frances Tiafoe
‘Well, fact is that, at 36, every Grand Slam final… could be the last one. So I think that I probably value these occasions and opportunities to win another Slam more than I have maybe 10 years ago,’ said Djokovic, who would be the oldest man to win the US Open in the professional era, which began in 1968.
‘I don’t know how many I have ahead of me now.’
He has made it to the finals of all four majors this season, with victories at the Australian Open in January and French Open in June.
If Djokovic does end up leaving with the hardware this time, he would break a tie with Serena Williams for the most major singles championships in the Open era.
‘It’s another shot for history,’ said Djokovic, who was seeded No. 2 at the US Open but will replace Alcaraz at No. 1 next week no matter what happens Sunday.