Djokovic ends Tsonga's dream in Melbourne

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has taken tennis by storm in the last fortnight but the French whirlwind finally blew itself out here today. Having beaten four seeded players on his way to the Australian Open final, Tsonga finally met his match in Novak Djokovic, the world No 3. Claiming his first Grand Slam title, Djokovic came from behind to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6.

Tsonga, the world No 38, had never played in a final let alone won a tournament and for the first hour he looked to be on the way to a sensational victory. Djokovic, however, has emerged in the last year as a worthy challenger to the supremacy of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and the 20-year-old worked his way back into the match before taking control. The first Serb to win a men's Grand Slam singles title, he is also the first player other than Federer or Nadal to claim a Grand Slam crown since Marat Safin won here three years ago.

For Tsonga there were plenty of compensations, not the least of which was his cheque for $Aus685,000 (about £305,000), which doubles his career earnings. He will also rise to No 18 in the next rankings list, while his performances here and winning smile have made him an instant favourite with the public.

If the fans took to the 22-year-old Frenchman over the last fortnight, Djokovic did not endear himself to the locals after his semi-final, when he said that he had had to beat both Roger Federer and the crowd. The Serb further alienated most of the spectators here with the length of time he frequently took between his first and second serves. Tsonga twice complained but to no avail.

The underdog clearly enjoyed the greater support in the stands and Djokovic's family complained about the behaviour of a group of French fans behind their box. The Police were in attendance, but only in the shape of Sting and company following their concert at the Melbourne Cricket Ground 24 hours earlier.

At least Djokovic retained his sense of humour in his victory speech. "I know the crowd wanted him [Tsonga] to win more, but that's OK," he said. "I still love you guys, don't worry."

Both men started nervously by dropping serve, but Tsonga was quickly into his stride. Djokovic continued to look tight, while the Frenchman was soon moving around the court with the languid ease that has characterised his play throughout the tournament.

At 4-5 Djokovic went 0-30 down on his serve, brought the score back to 30-30, but then lost the set after two sensational points. The Serb should have put away a routine smash but hit it straight at Tsonga, who promptly drove a forehand winner across court. There was little wrong with Djokovic's play on the next point, but Tsonga flew across the court to pick up the world No 3's volley and whipped a superb top-spin lob that landed just inside the baseline. Tsonga went on one knee and pumped his fist in celebration, while his watching father, Didier, threw punches into the air in the manner of Muhammad Ali, his son's lookalike.

It was the first set Djokovic had dropped at the tournament, but although the Serb was looking rattled his response was admirable. At 3-3 in the second set a smash and a thumping backhand winner down the line off a 132mph per hour serve created break point, which was converted when Tsonga put a forehand out. For the first time since the opening game Tsonga's confidence waned and Djokovic took the set with four successive unreturned serves.

The momentum had clearly shifted in Djokovic's favour and the Serb dominated the third set. He broke in the third game, courtesy of two successive Tsonga errors, and at 3-5 the Frenchman dropped his serve again. Djokovic, however, needed seven set points, Tsonga finally wilting when he netted a volley after the world No 3's powerful backhand down the line.

The first three sets had taken more than two hours and in the fourth both players felt the pace. Tsonga showed signs of the cramp that had affected him in his first-round defeat of Andy Murray, while Djokovic started to feel his left thigh. The Serb took a time-out to have his leg massaged and was clearly moving with some difficulty, but Tsonga was unable to take advantage.

The outcome of the match might have been different if Tsonga had won a critical point when Djokovic served at 5-5. The Frenchman, having created his first break point since the first set, had his opponent at his mercy when he chased down a drop shot, but instead of going cross-court he drove his forehand down the line, where Djokovic was waiting to cut it off and hit a winning volley.

The Serb played a magnificent tie-break to claim victory. He made the first break to lead 2-0, broke again to go 5-1 up and took his first match point when Tsonga put a forehand out. Djokovic fell on his back in celebration and kissed the court before running over to share his joy with his family. It will surely be the first of many Grand Slam victories in what is promising to be a wonderful career.

One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Arts and Entertainment
(L-R) Amanda Peet as Tina Morris, Melanie Lynskey as Michelle Pierson, Abby Ryder Fortson as Sophie Pierson, Mark Duplass as Brett Pierson and Steve Zissis as Alex Pappas in Togetherness
TV First US networks like HBO shook up drama - now it's comedy's turn
Pool with a view: the mMarina Bay Sands in Singapore
travel From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
The will of Helen Beatrix Heelis, better known as Beatrix Potter, was among those to be archived
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Nigel Farage: 'I don't know anybody in politics as poor as we are'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect