Without a doubt, Novak Djokovic is one of the best tennis players in history, and yet he keeps extending some of his records even further. Earlier this year at Wimbledon, the 36-year-old reached his 35th Grand Slam final to stand alone in the history tables.
Now, the Serbian extended his record even further, and it may have been easier than he expected. Except for being down 0-2 to fellow compatriot Laslo Djere in the third round of the tournament, Djokovic didn't lose a single set, cruising past all of his opponents.
His most recent victory came against American Taylor Fritz, and on Friday night, the second seed had to play another American player at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, as Ben Shelton stood in his way for what would have been his first Grand Slam final.
Thanks to his semifinal run at Flushing Meadows, Shelton secured a Top 20 breakthrough, and he could have pushed his ranking even further, but the most experienced player in the draw stood in his way.
Initially, the heat seemed to be the main concern for both players and fans, too, but eventually, rain washed away all the problems, and the match was played under a closed roof where over 20,000 people wanted their player to pull off a shocking upset.
But facing a 23-time Grand Slam champion is never easy and the young American got to experience a player of such caliber for the first time in his career. The experience showed already in the first set when Djokovic was the first player to break, and even though the 20-year-old then saved four set points and even had a break-back-point, it wasn't enough to turn around the set, as the three-time US Open champion won it 6-3.
The second set was seemingly even more straightforward. This time, the youngster didn't have a single break point, while Djokovic used two of his six chances, controlling the set and winning it comfortably 6-2.
Djokovic lost only one match in his career after leading 2-0, and early on in the third set, it seemed that this one wouldn't get anywhere close to enriching this statistic. In the fifth game of the third set, the Serb led already 3-1 and had a chance to go up by two breaks.
But the 36-year-old didn't use his chance, and soon he would regret it. Supported by a loud New York crowd, Shelton played some of his best tennis, recovering the break, and even having a set point in the tenth game.
Yet, that didn't mean much against Djokovic, who showed why he's one of the biggest favourites to win the tournament, as the Serb broke his serve again. But another turn of events saw the second seed leave a match point on his serve unused, and the third set had to be decided in a tie-break.
But Djokovic certainly didn't want to go to the fourth set, especially after more than 150 minutes of play and the crowd getting involved more and more. Eventually, the Serbian was able to win the match 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(4), and reach his tenth US Open final and also his 36th Grand Slam final.