Social media’s keyboard warriors have turned their attention to a new target: Ben Shelton’s father.

Bryan Shelton has been facing criticism for his emotional response to Djokovic’s phone gesture celebration. While some label him “oversensitive” and his comment “bitter” due to the incident, there’s an overlooked perspective that shines clear: Bryan’s profound love for his son.

Beyond his role as a father, Bryan also serves as his coach, diligently overseeing and mentoring his son throughout the recently concluded US Open.

Ben Shelton’s defeat 

Ben, whose name quickly rose up in the ranks in the past year, made history as he not only reached the semi-finals and faced long-time champ Djokovic, but he also registered two serving bombs (147 and 149 mph) at the US Open that were quite close to beating Andy Roddick’s 152 mph world record.

And he was on his way to glory when Djokovic blocked him in the semi-finals. The two had a tight and heated battle, with the audience torn on whether to cheer for the American teenager or the former champ, who’s had an impressive 23 wins in his career. Ben, though, wasn’t fazed by Djokovic, and he kept pushing him, giving him a run for his money.

Despite his efforts, Djokovic still came out victorious with 6-3, 6-2, 7-6, proving to everyone who was out there cheering for Ben that he still reigns supreme.

Post-match gesture

Rather than concluding the match with a hand shake, Novak Djokovic opted to add a humorous element to the proceedings by imitating Ben’s signature gesture of hanging up the phone.

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While some may have seen this act as adding insult to injury, for the two players in court, it was just another episode of “friendly banter.”.

“I just love Ben’s celebration,” said Djokovic. “I thought it was very original, and I copied him. I stole his celebration.”

Ben had used the phone celebration gesture before when he won a match against Tiafoe, and many people saw this as arrogant. However, according to him, he had done the gesture to give his boys back in Florida a shoutout.

In a post-match interview, Ben also revealed that he was unaware that Djokovic had copied his gestures. He also said in a statement that he deserved to do whatever he wanted because he had won the match.

“I think if you win the match, you deserve to do whatever you want. You know, as a kid growing up, I always learned that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so that’s all I have to say about that.”, Ben said in an interview.

Chris Eubanks, a professional tennis player and Ben’s friend, said that he initially wanted to be protective of Ben, but that the more he thought about it, the more he loved Djokovic’s mimicry.

Bryan, being his father and coach, however, decided to go for the fatherly instinct as he mostly felt that Djokovic did that to mock his son’s defeat.

 “He wants to be loved so much, Novak …He wanted to mock Ben at the end. It wasn’t something he was doing just to copy Ben. It was to mock him. And that’s too bad, for that to come from such a great champion.” Bryan Shelton told GQ.

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Since then, people have been talking about Bryan protecting his son’s feelings on social media, with most of them saying it’s part of sports and that he shouldn’t be sour because his son did the same thing.

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