Djokovic v Shelton, Alcaraz v Medvedev; US Open SF Picks And Pans

by Sean Randall | September 8th, 2023, 9:03 am

And then there were just four.

Just four men remain at the US Open, and what a semifinal slate it is. Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev and of course the guy who everyone thought would be there, Ben Shelton (kidding).

Shelton emerged from the open U.S.-heavy quarter home to Casper Ruud, Holger Rune and then the Americans Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul. Paul was my pick to get through but I’m not overly surprised that Shelton got in the way of Paul and Tiafoe.

Paul pretty much gagged that first set away when he missed an easy forehand for 4-0. That doesn’t mean he would have won the match, but certainly winning the first set would have changed the dynamics. And then Tiafoe just hasn’t been playing well enough to believe in his game when he needed it most in that third set breaker.

Meanwhile, Shelton doesn’t care. He’s just out there banging serves and ripping winners like he was a no pressure 20-year-old. Oh wait, he it.

As for the rest of the draw, not much excitement other than that crazy Alexander Zverev-Jannik Sinner match. Djokovic made things interesting going down two sets. Alcaraz has looked better than he did over the summer, as has Medvedev.

So the stage is set for the Top 3 in the world plus Shelton to do battle this weekend. On to my picks.

Novak Djokovic v Ben Shelton
Here we have experience v youth, precision v power and on and on.

Obviously it’s tough to pick against Novak. He won’t let Shelton off the hook from the ground but I think he will give Shelton some chances on his own serve.

In crunch time of late, we’ve seen Novak struggle getting first serves in and allowing things to get complicated.

Since this is a first meeting or even first hit, Djokovic might need a few reps to get accustomed to the Shelton firepower and that where perhaps the youngster can steal a break.

“I also think that it’s an advantage with my game style playing someone who’s never played me before,” Shelton said. “I think that I can bring some things to the table that maybe you don’t see in your normal match that you play on the ATP Tour. So I’m definitely going to try to bring some things to the table that are different and hopefully disruptive on Friday.”

Shelton’s problem is going to be managing his own serve. While he can bang ’em, he also misses ’em. And I feel like Novak is going to be able to make a strong impression in the Shelton service games.

Ben will get his aces, 145mph+ and quick holds, but I’ll say one of the every three of Shelton’s services will go deep.

That said, Shelton is going to hammer on the Djokovic serve. So Djokovic better get a lot of first serves in otherwise Shelton will grip-and-rip and likely connect on a few and occasionally get the Serb in trouble. The kid has absolutely going to rip the ball and do it as often as he can.

“Ben has been serving some bombs this tournament,” Djokovic said. “When his serve is on, he is a very difficult player to play against, especially because he’s lefty as well.”

But in the rallies, it should be all Djokovic who won’t (or shouldn’t) succumb to the pressure of the moment like Paul and Tiafoe did.

Shelton will make a good showing with his high energy red-line game, but I don’t think it’s good enough for the upset.
The Pick: Novak Djokovic in 4

Carlos Alcaraz v Daniil Medvedev
This year it’s been one-way traffic for Alcaraz in this matchup. The Russian stands so far back on return of serve that all Alcaraz has to do is get the serve in and then decide, do I run the Russian or hit a drop shot? That’s it.

And with Alcaraz’s power, Medvedev can’t track ’em all.

“Last matches that I played against Daniil, I played a tactical game perfectly,” Alcaraz said. “I did pretty well all the things that I had to do against him, so I think my game suits pretty well against that type of opponent like Daniil. So I’m going to try to do the same things that I did in Indian Wells and at Wimbledon and hopefully get the win and play the same level that I played in those matches.”

Unless Alcaraz is well off his game, Medvedev is not going to win playing defense 15 feet behind the baseline. He has to know that.

He’s going to have to be up in the court and taking risks. And cranking the serve.

Medvedev is a great returner so if he can hold easily then he can really take chances in his return game, and that could pay off.

“What makes him difficult is just that he has every shot. He has extra power,” Medvedev said of Alcaraz. “Many players, probably 97%, it’s tough for them to hit the ball through me, I’m always there, always running, always trying to get it back. He can do it just because he has this power, we see 100 miles per hour forehand winners and stuff like this.

“He’s good from forehand, backhand, he can slice, dropshot. So he has every shot in the game. But again, tennis, you can always beat players. People beat Novak. People even beat Rafa on clay, which is almost impossible but some players do. It’s the same about Carlos.”

And Medvedev is 100% right. Alcaraz is beatable but Medvedev is going to have to do something different.

The US Open court is better for Medvedev than the grass so I expect a better performance than Wimbledon. But I think the result is the same.
The Pick: Carlos Alcaraz in 3

Could we see a Shelton-Medvedev final? Sure. Ha ha. Things have been going too smoothly thus far and in the back of my mind I felt like another Alcaraz-Djokovic is too good to be true. But here we are.

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19 Comments for Djokovic v Shelton, Alcaraz v Medvedev; US Open SF Picks And Pans

Okiegal Says:

If there is one fan in the crowd against the Joker, he has an uncanny way of pin pointing where the culprit is sitting!! Lol The guy definitely has rabbit ears and eyes like an eagle!!

Okiegal Says:

Novak is a copycat……😹😹🐈🐈

Okiegal Says:

Okiegal nailed it!! Novak admitted he copied Ben Shelton’s celebration antics! (answering a phone and hanging it up) But Novak has always gotten his kicks impersonating other players. He really needs to come up with some original stuff that he call his own. But please spare us the TT toss!! 😂😂

Kimmi Says:

Wow!! just wow to Medvedev

All Out Says:

Djoker winning was always expected but medvedev winning was definitely a surprise. His level was very high throughout the match. Alcaraz however was very ordinary today.

skeezer Says:

“..Djoker winning was always expected….”
A cupcake draw will do that.

SG1 Says:

Seems like Medvedev is on a mission to get his 2nd major. Not overly confident about Novak taking him down right now.

Hoping Sunday delivers a final to remember!

Okiegal Says:

Meddy was scary good today! A closed roof dud no favors for Carlito! The final on Sunday should be a barn burner!!

GO COCO GO‼️🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

Wog Boy Says:


Joca Says:

skeezer Says:
“..Djoker winning was always expected….”
A cupcake draw will do that.

Any draw is a cupcake draw for Novak. He can beat other top 10 players with his left hand, except Carlitos. With him Novak needs to break some sweat in order to win.
We are so lucky to be able to witness the greatest tennis player of all time. Let’s enjoy!

chrisford1 Says:

by statistical odds, save Wimbledon seeding at times – the odds of a good draw a bad one a so-so one are the same for all players.

But Skeezer needs to ask, given equal odds at draws – who else has made all 4 Slam Finals in a year on the men’s side in the last 15 years?
Djokovic did it 3 times.

BTW – When I finally got to see 12 minutes of Medvedev-Alcaraz, the Russian fan fave played amazing. He is at his peak.

skeezer Says:

You mean 2021? Lol…

skeezer Says:


chrisford1 Says:

Sorry Skeezer, but only a fool doesn’t bother to fact check then LOL! in foolish self congratulation.
Djokovic got into all 4 men’s Slam Finals in 2015, 2021, and 2023.
Which shows a lucky draw is irrelevant to Djokovic’s consistent excellence.
YOu should be happy that Federer also showed consistent excellence in things like reaching 23 semis at Slams. It’s just that Djokovic is a bit better.

skeezer Says:

Not a fool CF1, I leave that title to you. Only asking what year as you were not specific.
Just be happy today Gauff won ;)

chrisford1 Says:

Skeezer, leave out the “LOL!” next time you question facts. You will get a more civil response that way.

Congrats to Cori Gauff.While the men’s game us currently talent stacked and many players are decent replacements for Serena – it is not the amazing pile of talent, thrilling matches that the mens game is now. The Top 10 is filled with superb, Slam worthy new players.
And the old guy.

chrisford1 Says:

Woman’s game, it should read. Need an edit feature here someday, Sean.

skeezer Says:

Lol was deserved, as you left it wide open.
I found the womens semis and finals way more entertaining than any mens match, outside the Z / Sinner match. Carlos is a fun watch though.
Overall no way consider the mens side “talent stacked “compared to the Fedal days I mean c’mon.

Wog Boy Says:


I wouldn’t feed the troll 🧌

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