On an almost unbearably humid Tuesday night in front of a packed and energized crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, unseeded Ben Shelton upset No. 10 seed Frances Tiafoe 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-2 to advance to the 2023 US Open semifinals.

With the win, the 20-year-old Shelton became the youngest man from the United States to reach a US Open semifinals since Michael Chang accomplished the feat at the age of 20 in 1992.

The match between Shelton and Tiafoe was also historic for another reason. Facing off against each other in a stadium named for Arthur Ashe, the only Black man ever to win the singles titles at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open, the meeting was the first US Open quarterfinal between Black men in the Open era.

Leading up to the match, Tiafoe reflectively expressed to the media, “Two people of color playing in the quarterfinals …It’s a pretty monumental moment.”

The No. 10 seed Tiafoe was the presumed favorite, having dropped just one set at the tournament before Tuesday night. However, Shelton, whose powerful serve and impressive forehand helped propel him from outside the Top 100 last year to the No. 47 ranked player in the world, displayed the skills to take down Tiafoe in his runup to Tuesday’s quarterfinals match.

Speaking with reporters early in the week, Tiafoe, from Hyattsville, Maryland, assessed his friend and opponent.

“It’s a big match. He’s Bugs Bunny. He’s got crazy energy, endless energy,” said Tiafoe. “He’s going to come after me, and I’m going to come after him. It’s going to be a great battle, we’re going to compete really hard.”

And they went at it. Shelton, a native of Atlanta, put his abilities on full display as the lefthander and Tiafoe battled back and forth, both with huge serves and blistering returns. Ultimately, however, a powerful return by Shelton to save a set point in a pivotal third-set tiebreaker, followed by two missed shots by Tiafoe, allowed Shelton to win the set and prevent Tiafoe from taking a two-sets-to-one lead. Shelton broke Tiafoe to begin the fourth set and marched on to victory.

In his post-match on-court interview, Shelton said, “I’m feeling like I left it all out here tonight… An emotional battle. Thanks to all you guys for staying so late. Hell of an atmosphere. And thanks for pushing me over the line.”

Shelton’s victory moved him into the top 20 in the men’s world singles ranking. He will face No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic this Friday in the US Open semifinals. Djokovic will be appearing in his record 47th Grand Slam semifinals match and has won 23 Grand Slam titles, the most all-time by a men’s player.

Earlier during Tuesday’s session, No. 6 seed Coco Gauff dominated No. 20 seed Jelena Ostapenko,  the 2017 French Open champion, 6-0, 6-2, to reach her first US Open semifinal at just age 19. Next up for Gauff is No. 10 seed Karolína Muchová tonight.  

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