Nobody with his head in the right place might have predicted the two finalists in the Australian Open to be Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. In fact, it seemed impossible that Roger Federer’s winning streak would have ended ; and that too in a semi final. But things don’t always go according to the script.
The rise of Serbia as a tennis power has been phenomenal. Just in the past year and a half, players like Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic and Novak Djokovic have emerged out of the blue and taken the tennis world by storm. So meteoric has been the ascent of Djokovic , that he was repeatedly being touted as the man capable of beating Federer, more capable than Rafael Nadal even. In the Australian Open semi finals, he did exactly that. By beating Roger Federer in straight sets, he not only proved to the world that the reign of the Swiss may be coming to an end, but also emerged as the No.1 contender for the top spot. Only one man stands between him and his first Grand Slam title: an unseeded young Frenchman.
If Djokovic’s emergence has had the pundits stand up and take notice, that of Jo-Wilfred Tsonga has had them stare in disbelief. People have egged, cheered and applauded him as he has waylaid one big name after another. His energy, determination and fearlessness has seen him pack off Mikail Youzhny and Rafael Nadal in straight sets, and shockingly enter the finals of the first Grand Slam of the year.
So it all boils down to Sunday. Will the emerging giant stamp his authority on the hard courts of the Rod Laver Arena? Or will he fall to the Giant Killer who has been living a dream? Will it be the smooth and powerful Serb with his big serves? Or will it be the exuberant, indefatigable Frenchman with nothing to lose? Time will have all the answers.