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Fight Night 01/26/2008 - 9:11 AM

Tsongapreview Here are a few thoughts as you wait for the big match between Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, which will begin around 8:00 p.m. here. I have high hopes for this match. For one, I'm very excited to see two new players in a major final, especially two as energetic and charismatic as these two. For another, I know that if Tsonga maintains his level--or something close to it--we're going to have an entertaining match. Is tennis about to find another Gustavo Kuerten? Or is it Serbia's time? Here's a haphazard scorecard; add what you will below.

Serve: Even
Djokovic has a better second serve and an excellent first serve. Tsonga's first serve, when it's on (as it has been), is a bomb. Perhaps a slight edge to Djokovic because of his consistency.

Forehand: Tsonga
Djokovic is again the steadier player, but Tsonga's forehand is a bigger weapon. No ball should be subjected to such punishment in a humane world.

Backhand: Djokovic
The Serb's backhand failed him in the U.S. Open final last year and had a few shaky moments against Roger Federer in the semifinals, but it is a solid stroke. Tsonga's backhand is his weakness. It worked well against Nadal; I'm not sure if he can keep it together again.

Volleys: Tsonga
Do I have to explain?

Speed/Footwork: Djokovic
Tsonga might have more speed, but not much more and I haven't seen enough of him to pass judgment on his footwork. Djokovic never seems out of place, so I'll give him the edge.

Mental toughness and experience go to Djokovic; he's been in a major final before and is tied with Rafael Nadal for most confident player in the world (justified or not).

Nerves, to me, are a toss up. I don’t see Tsonga being scared of Djokovic, and Djokovic is in the odd situation of being expected to win this match even though he is two years younger than Tsonga and has never won a major. We'll see how he reacts.

Crowd support, without a doubt, goes to Tsonga. This country has fallen for the man they call Ali--fallen head over heels. At the Queen Victoria Market Friday morning, I had a discussion with a vendor about tennis. She had this to swoon--um, say: "That Tsonga, he'll bring me back to tennis!" The papers here play him up as if he had announced his intention to seek Australian citizenship after the tournament. Television cameras can't follow him around long enough. One more victory and he is a tournament legend, and who doesn't want to live in legendary times?


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Posted by Dzoni 01/26/2008 at 09:32 AM


Posted by Steve 01/26/2008 at 09:44 AM

I hope Tsonga wins.. After that match against Nadal, I feel he deserves it more than Djokovic..

Posted by Marian 01/26/2008 at 09:53 AM

Let's go Tsonga, let's go! :P

BTW: he moves better then Djokovic and doesn't have athletic asthma like Djoko seems (Remember how he was catching his breath hard in the third set against Ferrer?)

Posted by Or 01/26/2008 at 09:56 AM

Well, I'm all for baby Ali, and I'm honest enough to admit that bitterness and revange have a lot to do with it, LOL.

Oh, Good God. I'm the most awful kind of Roger Kad, aren't I?

Should be very interesting.

Posted by Serpiko 01/26/2008 at 10:24 AM

It should be a tough match since Tsonga has been great. But, knowing and following Djokovic actively I really don't see how he can lost this match. He has been performing so good at this year's Aussie Open and he has a confidence that probable nobody had in tennis during the last 10-20 years.. and he wants to become #1 as soon as possible..
On the other hand, Tsonga is a true refreshement to the World of tennis and he really has to offer something different to the fans.
I think we are going to see a fabolous final with two great players that have hugu charisma. In fact, I cannot wait for the match..i am counting the minutes already..

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/26/2008 at 10:39 AM


thanks Tom. Did you know Jo-Willy's parents hopped in a plane and will finally be there for the final?!

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/26/2008 at 10:52 AM

I think Tsonga will handle the pressure quite fine thank you very much! :) The bullying way he used to dispose of Rafa, in order to avenge his loss at the USO doesn't bode too badly for Jo-Willy...and I agree I don't think he's afraid of Djokovic at all.

For me it's more about Djokovic losing the match than Tsonga winning. The Frenchman will be, as he said in the press "relaxed, in full possession of his capabilites and the head straight up". ( "Je vais arriver relax et en étant en pleine possession de mes moyens et la tête haute".)

and with his on court skills, it's a good game plan as any.

Posted by 10-s gal 01/26/2008 at 10:59 AM

is it just me or do the stars seem to be out of alignment in oz
this year? not one top seed or second seed made it to the finals in men's, ladies, doubles, or mixed. not one reigning champion (or champions) made it back to the finals. only two finalists from last year, maria and azarneka, found their way back to the championship round, with only maria making the most of her return trip. azarenka played in last year's mixed final, this year in the ladies dubs and lost both. in all of the contests so far, the lower ranked players have come out victorious.

therefore, with absolutely no scientific evidence to back me up, i predict the j w tsonga will beat nole tonight.

Posted by Charlotte 01/26/2008 at 11:15 AM

I hope Jo-Wilfried comes out on fire and maintains it throughout the match. Such an exciting player with an awesome talent. I am a Fed fan, always will be, and I'm sorry he had to lose, but let's face it, he lost fair and square to the better player on the day. Just prefer to watch Tsonga's tennis.

Posted by embug 01/26/2008 at 11:19 AM

Boy am I glad to hear that the Aussies are pro Tsonga. I didn't like the chest-thumping Serbs, or the antics from Joker's box, during the semi final. Joker was "over proud," even vainglorious! The crowd sensed his egoism, too, and reacted with boos at some points.

I'm still in mourning about TMF's loss. What can I say. With so many non-seeds making it to the finals and semis, this AO is a bookmark for the year.

Tsonga beat Nadal in a semifinal of a grand slam. He didn't show any nerves. If he wasn't nervous there - and really why should he be, he has nothing to defend, then he might come out and display Zen qualities. However, the statistics will be the final word.

Posted by Tsongo 01/26/2008 at 11:20 AM


TSONGA: 316 winners ( took out 4 seeds)

DJOKOVIC: 210 winners (took out 3 seeds)

Guess which one Science favors?

Posted by Markic 01/26/2008 at 11:28 AM

I don't think newbie überhottie Tsonga will be psyched out by Djoko's antics, the way fed is - Djokovic can't really play the upstart the way he usually does against fellow top players, and he may be straight-jacketed by this. Similarly, I've always thought there was something a bit egotistical about Tsonga: the laid-back, Safinesque swagger, so he's got some confidence of his own to bring. If he can get the crowd on his side, and just express himself as in the semi with Rafa, it's going to get the crowd really excited, and irritate Djoko.

I still pick Nole, though. This final's almost as babelicious as the men's game can get...

Posted by john smith 01/26/2008 at 11:31 AM

Tsonga could reach 4 sets... that's the maximum...

Posted by Markic 01/26/2008 at 11:51 AM

Hi Tsongo, insteresting stat: out of curiousity, how do their unforced errors match up?

Posted by Love 40 01/26/2008 at 11:52 AM

Oh Fed, oh my express, oh TMF, it mut be a PMS. That is pathetic!

Djokovic - Tsonga 3:0.

All the best for both players and let us have a good match!

Posted by elenas 01/26/2008 at 11:52 AM

As much as I love Tsonga...i dont see Djoko losing this one...This is a chance for his first slam - he took out Federer - he means business...Plus how about mental toughness and belief...

If Tsonga wins...Mens tennis has a new sensation

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/26/2008 at 11:59 AM

how can you be "over-proud" when you are 20 years old, number 3 in the world, and you just beaten the Fed (the best player of all time) for the second time and reach your 2nd slam final in a row??????

And I mean, as if Tsonga wasn't displaying comparable "assuredness" (and I'm being diplomatic here) without (for the time being at least) the same record of achievements !!

Posted by athanguy 01/26/2008 at 12:28 PM

Djoko in 3 easy sets. believe me. Tsonga is not primetime ready yet. Djoko is.

Posted by 01/26/2008 at 01:02 PM

athanguy, i dont know about Djoko winning in three easy sets...Tsonga may not have the experience yet but have you seen any of his matches at this AO? He is unbelievable...every commentators dream...his shot making is unreal...

Posted by tina 01/26/2008 at 01:09 PM

ALLEZ TSONGA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Love 40 01/26/2008 at 01:12 PM

Tsonga really played unbelivable. But Djokovic is faster(thinker and player)and he needs less room for his game. That will make the difference.

Posted by john smith 01/26/2008 at 01:23 PM

I've seen Tsonga's error making... amazingly high, too. I don't think you can win it that way in the final.

Posted by Nemesis 01/26/2008 at 02:01 PM

Oh, Tsonga...Tsonga...Tsonga. I am sure that after this Aussie Open you will never hear for this guy, because he was nowhere before this final, isn't it? Djokovic wins in straight sets as his girlfriend Sharapova... Djokovic has beaten FedeEX and Tsonga Nadal? Is that comparable on hard courts?

Posted by Carrie 01/26/2008 at 02:40 PM

Nemesis - actually some people who follow tennis had heard of Tsonga before this run. During 2007 - his first full year on the tour without injury- he had a bigg battle with Roddick at Oz, beat Hewitt at Queens and reached the 4th round of Wimbledon (the third or fourth grand slam he ever played in.) He went from a ranking in the 200s to inside the top 50. And he also beat Murray- who was coming off a tournament win and considered a contender for the title, Gasquet, and Youzhny (who is now a member of the top ten) en route to meeting Nadal. I don't know where his future will lead him- but I think you are being awfully dismissive.

Posted by ixvnyc 01/26/2008 at 02:55 PM

novak doesn't need the crowd.
if they are against him, it will just pump him up more.
he will beat tsonga, and then, he will jump into the stands
and beat the crowd too :)

just kidding.... tough one to call.
both players are playing great tennis...
and it's the true final of this tournament.

i like tsonga (how can you not?), but i am a serb and novak's fan,
so i'd like him to bring us the first mens grand slam :)

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