- Ben Shelton and Novak Djokovic rivalry is frustrating
- Shelton is ready for it all to end
- Djokovic said that Shelton mocked him first
Ben Shelton and Novak Djokovic rivalry is at a place where the American youngster feels suffocated by it all and wants an end to it.
Shelton who is in Melbourne for the Australian Open 2024 is hopeful that he won’t have another awkward moment with Djokovic who is defending his 2023 victory.
It has been months of rivalry between them and he feels it is getting out of hand with every tournament.
When Did Ben Shelton and Novak Djokovic Rivalry Begin?
Shelton and Djokovic’s rivalry traces back to the US Open 2023. The world No.16 faced off with the world No. 1 in the semi-finals.
He exuded confidence in beating Djokovic after an impressive sail to the last eight in the tournament. However, he lost in all three sets 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(4) to the Serbian despite breaking his serves five times.
It is after the defeat that Djokovic mockingly mimicked Shelton’s ‘phone down’ signature gesture. This was the beginning of their bad blood going down to 2024.
Djokovic came under fire for his mockery and he remained unapologetic about it. He explained that he served Shelton a dose of his own medicine because he would have done the same to him if he won the match
“This is my reaction to a provocation that came from the other side, it was a reaction against him. He did not behave properly, with respect, on the court, and before the match, he told L’Equipe.
Why Did Novak Djokovic Mock Ben Shelton?
He further explained that he will never mock anyone who hasn’t mock him and it is evident in the matches he has lost. The 36-year-old tennis great said that he sometimes hugs his opponents and congratulate them if they beat him.
For Shelton though, he chose to go down a different path and he simply reciprocated this energy.
“I’m never going to make fun of someone if they don’t do something first. Every time I lose I always give my opponent a hug, I congratulate him, I respect him and his team. If anyone places himself in the ‘unsportsmanlike zone’, I react.”
How Did Ben Shelton React to Novak Djokovic Mockery?
Shelton was questioned about Djokovic’s provocative remarks following his victory in the first-round match against Roberto Bautista Agut at the Australian Open.
He said that he has spoken about it severally in the past but he now feels that all this should come to an end.
“I feel like I’ve said my peace on the matter. I would rather just let it settle and move forward. We’re in Australia now, and we’re at the Australian Open and not the US Open anymore. I’m just focusing on the Australian Open and happy and grateful to be here,” he said.
Shelton responded maturely, displaying a hint of annoyance at being questioned about Djokovic’s conduct yet again during a press conference.
He chose to redirect the focus to his own aspirations in Melbourne, aiming to replicate or surpass his quarter-finals performance from the previous year.
Shelton said that he is confident of the progress he has made in specific aspects of his game compared to 2023. The American is sure he is now a better baseliner than he was last year.
Overall, he feels that he has diversified his game which means there is a reduction on his reliance on his serves.
“I find myself growing more comfortable in rallies extending beyond three or four shots. Perhaps last year, I heavily depended on quick points and winning within the first two or three shots,” he noted.
“So I think that my shot tolerance has improved a bit. That just comes with playing so many great players in different places, different surfaces.”
Revisiting Ben Shelton and Novak Djokovic Rivalry, his attempt to steer clear of the subject may fail should he win another two matches to sail through to the round of 16.
He will be potentially setting the stage for a face-off with the 24-time Grand Slam champion. Nevertheless, Djokovic had difficulties in overcoming his first-round opponent, Dino Prizmic.