Djokovic wilts as Tsonga powers through to semis
Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:53
A supercharged Jo-Wilfried Tsonga sent a visibly shattered Novak Djokovic out of the Australian Open after earning a 7-6(8) 6-7(5) 1-6 6-3 6-1 quarter-final victory over the stricken former champion.
The Frenchman, having avenged his defeat to the world No.3 in the 2008 final, will face Roger Federer in the semi-finals after the tournament top seed beat Nikolay Davydenko in the day’s other quarter-final.
Djokovic faded badly as illness struck midway through the match. The Serb required a medical timeout and returned to the locker room, with reports suggesting that he had vomited before returning to the court.
Tsonga clinched an entertaining opening set with both men playing no-holds barred tennis after coming out on top 10-8 in the tiebreak, but No.3 seed Djokovic hit back after a much more clinical performance when a breaker was again required in the second.
The Serb was in the ascendency as a smart volleying game helped him romp through the third set, and he looked in great shape to complete the turnaround before illness struck and forced him from the court.
On his return Djokovic looked jaded, moving gingerly and breathing heavily, and his game collapsed around him. Tsonga capitalised, going 5-0 up before the Serb mounted a short-lived fightback, and levelled the match at two sets all.
Having not played a five-set match in his career before this year’s Open, Tsonga found himself in his second Grand Slam match to go the distance in succession after beating Nicolas Almagro 9-7 in the fifth set to book his spot in the last eight.
But while Djokovic faded badly the Frenchman rose to the occasion, firing up the crowd with his energetic display after seizing control with an early break. A second, gifted to the Frenchman with a double-fault from Djokovic, marked the end of the match as a contest.
The world No.3, who also retired from his quarter-final against Andy Roddick last year, had been in line to claim the world No.1 spot had results gone his way in Melbourne.
A second Australian Open title, twinned with defeat for Roger Federer ahead of the semi-finals, would have seen him reach the summit of the men’s rankings on Monday.
Instead, the Serb could only try and delay the inevitable in the closing stages as Tsonga powered past him and into the final four.
“It’s going to be tough because he’s the best player ever,” said Tsonga on the prospect of playing Federer, who he has beaten in one of their two previous meetings.
“I was in good shape,” said the Frenchman when asked how he felt physically. “Maybe a little bit better than him [Djokovic]!”
Asked about whether he had been aware of Djokovic’s state of health, he added: “I saw he was not very good, but sometimes, you know, he do that and he win.”