Ben Shelton demonstrates why he could be America's next men's tennis superstar by reaching the US Open semi-finals.

The wildest tennis ride is a 20-year-old American from Atlanta through Gainesville, Florida, with a powerful serve, a flair for showmanship, and a voracious hunger for risk. Ben Shelton is now a US Open semifinalist and potential superstar. He will face 23-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic on Friday after defeating fellow American and No. 10 seed Frances Tiafoe 6-2, 3-6, 7-6, 6-2 under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“It doesn’t get much better than that,” Shelton remarked. The latest sports news every day, from NFL plays to college scores. Though Tiafoe was the better-known player and fan favorite after his semifinal run last year, the 6-foot-4 Shelton started drawing gasps right away for his explosive athleticism and willingness to push a radar gun that was clocking many of his serves at 130 and 140 mph. 

More significantly, he controlled play from the first ball and made Tiafoe uncomfortable with his depth and power shots. Shelton's biggest challenge Tuesday was his propensity to play too large, losing the second set and nearly the third when his discipline collapsed. Shelton appeared to have lost the tiebreaker as he pushed hard to get to 6-5 with one point left in the set, only to double fault on successive points and give Tiafoe the lead. But true to his go-for-broke nature, Shelton blazed a tremendous forehand, his best of the match, that nicked the right sideline and left Tiafoe dumbfounded with no attempt to return it.

Sometimes you have to shut off the brain, close your eyes, and swing," said Shelton, who won the tiebreaker with two more points. “Maybe there was a little down set point, but it worked out. I don't know about clutch, but others say it. While the tiebreaker was more chance than clutch, what followed showed he can close. He broke serve to open the fourth set and raced away without a problem, ending any chance of a Tiafoe comeback.

Shelton, who won the 2022 NCAA men's singles championship at Florida, turned pro a year ago and reached the Australian Open quarterfinals in January. That run, helped by a soft draw, made his tour life worse. Shelton had not win back-to-back ATP matches until he arrived in New York, when he was facing a big aim and new tournaments and surfaces in Europe. Shelton has proven why many people consider him the best American talent in years and why he still has enormous upside in this tournament. 

Despite his raw skills, Shelton has improved greatly in his rookie year. The biggest change has been his return of serve, which had been slow all year but is improving now. It was the shot that made the most impact versus Tiafoe because Shelton repeatedly produced quality returns and got into rallies where he was better. He broke Tiafoe seven times, winning 50% of second serves and 37% of first serves. Tiafoe, who promised to win this tournament after his five-set quarterfinal loss to Carlos Alcaraz last year, will be devastated by this match

 It was poised to be a special night for him in the first US Open clash between two African-American men this deep. "I think it's a big night for people of color looking up to Ben and knowing they can be in these positions," Tiafoe told ESPN before the game.

At the end of the night, Shelton's persistent intensity and high-voltage playing might make him the first American Grand Slam winner since Andy Roddick in 2003.

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