The bristle-haired Novak Djokovic defeated Muhammad Ali-lookalike Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(2) in the final on Sunday night at the Australian Open, ending the streak of 11 straight Slams won by either Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal.
Tsonga hit an amazing sequence of shots to steal the first set, but Djokovic settled down after tournament officials were forced to quell rowdy French fans seated behind the Serb’s family box.
“You feel the expectations and pressure, so I’m very happy with the way I dealt with the pressure,” Djokovic said. “Coming on against a player with nothing to lose — he was going for the shots and he was very dangerous, especially in the first set — I was pretty nervous.”
After championship point Djokovic fell on his back, shook hands with Tsonga and put his arm around the Frenchman, got on his knees and kissed the court, shook hands with his family, then tossed rackets into the stands.
“First, before I thank everybody in this world, I want to thank everybody in my box, who’ve supported me all the way through, not just these two weeks, all the way in my life,” Djokovic said to the crowd. “Thank you very much, I love you…I know the crowd wanted him to win more. That’s OK, it’s all right. I still love you guys, don’t worry. I’m very, very happy that I won my first Grand Slam here, so hopefully we’ll see you here on this stage a lot more often in the future.”
Tsonga entered the event ranked outside the Top 35, and is still looking for his first tournament title.
“I don’t know if I have to be sad or happy of this final, but I feel great,” Tsonga said. “I’m happy for Novak, because he played unbelievable today…Not everybody can beat players who I beat. It’s very difficult, and I did it, so of course, I’m confident now.”
Tsonga will crack the Top 20 come Monday when the ATP Rankings are released.
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