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Tsonga Vs Djokovic: Djokovic Turns Over A New Leaf

January 28, 2010
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Pre tournament, I listed both Novak Djokovic and Jo Wilfried Tsonga as two players that desperately needed to do well at the Australian Open. Novak Djokovic had been showing decent although at times patchy form coming into last night’s quarter final clash, whilst Tsonga had been very much the same. The quarter finals were already a decent result for the Frenchman, but for Djokovic they were just Ok.

The match started with promise. Both men were striking the ball cleanly, and Tsonga’s net play was exceptional. With his superior consistancy and footwork, Djokovic constantly seemed to lead by a break. His serve just wasn’t quite clicking and mentally he didn’t seem to be quite right, he constantly gifted away break leads with double faults.

Both tiebreaks were of high quality, and at the start of the third they were a set a piece. Then it all went pear shaped. Djokovic clinched the third set 6-1 off a lackluster Tsonga, and then fell to pieces at the start of the fourth. Watching live, it was obvious that Djokovic had something wrong with him. His footwork went to pieces and he looked far from energetic. We took turns guessing at what the problem was, suspecting everything from a strained stomach muscle from an overhead to a back problem. He left the court after the first two games in the fourth, but only for a short time. It wasn’t until we checked his interview when we got home that we found out he had been suffering from a stomach problem and had left the court to throw up.

Having already seen Nadal retire with injury against Murray, we thought Djokvoic was about to do the same. To our suprise, however, Djokovic continued to play. He was playing far from his best, he looked lackluster and even his lone chest thump was done without enthusiasm. Yet, he kept trying. The crowd was predominately behind Tsonga, but with Djokovic’s display of determination, I think he won a few fans last night.

Tsonga played a brilliant match and deserves to be in the semi finals. He has managed to succeed at a tournament where he needed to show he could still compete with the top players. Djokovic, on the other hand, may not have got the results he wanted, but he showed that he is a player far more mentally mature than this time last year. And as the likes of del Potro, Federer, and Nadal have shown, mental maturity is essential for Slam success.

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