Shelton responds as Novak Djokovic offers explanation for US Open celebration

American tennis player Ben Shelton has responded after Novak Djokovic stole his phone celebration after their US Open semifinal. Djokovic beat the home player in straight sets to move a step closer to another major victory. 

Following his victory, Djokovic playfully replicated Shelton’s celebration from two days earlier against Frances Tiafoe. He mimicked holding a phone with his right hand, bringing it near his ear for a few moments before making a symbolic hang-up motion.

Right after celebrating, the Serbian approached the center net, tapping his racquet on the netted surface to greet Shelton with a handshake in a display of good sportsmanship. He later explained: “I just love Ben’s celebration.

“I thought it was very original. I copied him. I stole his celebration.” 

Shelton responded to the incident after the match, telling the press: “I didn’t see it until after the match. I don’t like when I am on social media, and I see people telling me how I can or can’t celebrate.

“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.”

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After easily clinching the first two sets, the Serbian tennis player aimed to prevent a fourth set after experiencing a lapse in performance. He had initially built a lead but watched it slip away and even faced a set point against his 20-year-old American opponent. 

Although uncharacteristic errors played a role in this dip in performance, Djokovic managed to regain control by establishing a 5-1 lead in the tie-break, which ultimately secured his victory with a final score of 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (4).

Shelton previously addressed the origins of his phone celebration, alluding to a nod to his childhood in Atlanta, Georgia. “Our home phone, when I was growing up in Atlanta, was one like that,” said Shelton when describing his trademark celebration.

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“If I wanted to talk to my friends or call their home phone, see if they wanted to go outside and throw a football, that was what I did. For me, it’s kind of like I am saying I’m dialed in,” he said Tuesday night.”[It’s] something that connects me to my friends back home.”

Looking ahead to Sunday, Djokovic will strive for his third major title of the year and the 24th of his illustrious career. This achievement would tie him with the record held by Margaret Court. 

“These are the kind of matches and occasions that I still thrive on. They still get me going and inspire me to wake up and work hard like the young guys,” said Djokovic, who would become the oldest man to win the US Open in the Open Era, which began in 1968.

“I still feel I have something in my legs left,” he said. “I still feel I have something to give to the sport.”

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