Australian Open 2008


Third seed Novak Djokovic and unseeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Djokovic and Tsonga will meet for the first time on Sunday

Third seed Novak Djokovic and unseeded French sensation Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will be the surprise finalists at the Australian Open on Sunday.

The pair stunned the tennis world on Friday by knocking out top seeds Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the semis.

Sunday’s final will be the first at a Grand Slam without either Federer or Nadal since the 2005 Australian Open.

“It means a lot to see some new faces in the finals,” said Djokovic, who will face Tsonga for the first time.

“The dominance of Federer and Nadal was just amazing the last couple of years, so I think it’s great for tennis lovers all around the world to see something new.”

Djokovic’s place in the final is not a complete shock as the 20-year-old Serb reached the US Open final last September, losing to Federer, and has risen to number three in the world.

But Friday’s straight-sets victory over Federer was still a huge breakthrough at Grand Slam level and he insists he now has no reason to fear Tsonga.

Neither of us has anything to lose. We will have more motivation, even though looking at the rankings I would be the favourite
Novak Djokovic

“He’s just amazing athlete. He’s been playing some impressive tennis in these two weeks – as I have. I still haven’t lost even a set here, which is amazing,” Djokovic added.

“Neither of us has anything to lose. We will have more motivation, even though looking at the rankings I would be the favourite. But it’s a final, so anything can happen.”

However, the remarkable rise of Djokovic is nothing compared to the dramatic impact made by Tsonga over the past fortnight.

After several years of injury problems the 22-year-old, who has a French mother and a father who was a handball player for Congo, is finally playing pain free.

He began the tournament with a 5-4 record at Grand Slam tournaments and has never won a tour event of any kind.

But Tsonga beat ninth seed Andy Murray in the first round and has since despatched eighth seed Richard Gasquet, 14th seed Mikhail Youzhny, and demolished second seed Nadal.

“I knew that I could play but my body was not ready,” he said. “Now it is ready, so I do it.”

Djokovic is ranked third in the world and Tsonga is number 38, but the Serbian player will not be taking anything for granted.

“Looking at the rankings, I will be the favourite,” he said. “But it’s the finals, and anything can happen.”


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