Djokovic expects fireworks as Tsonga bids to break 'big four'

Novak Djokovic saw semi-final rival Jo-Wilfried Tsonga demolish the theory that men's tennis is all about the "big four" and expects to face more fireworks from the French dangerman today.

A place in the Wimbledon final and the world No 1 ranking are on the line for Djokovic. Both are important to the fiery Serbian, who has regained his composure since the racket-smashing tantrum during his third-round match. But he knows Tsonga carries with him plenty of menace, as was demonstrated during his stunning five-set victory over Roger Federer in the quarter-finals.

Djokovic, on the brink of overtaking Rafael Nadal at the top of the men's rankings, began the year with a 41-match winning streak. But Federer halted that run in the semi-finals of the French Open, and Djokovic realises Tsonga could cause him more heartbreak when they play first on Centre Court.

"It's not only about the top four," Djokovic said. "There are other players that are able to play great tennis, and Tsonga has proved it. It's all very close at this level, especially in the second week of a grand slam."

While Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Andy Murray have pulled away from the rest at the top of the men's game, the likes of Tsonga are capable of springing surprises.

With his booming serve and supercharged forehand, the Le Mans-born 26-year-old has been threatening to break into the elite group for several years, but injuries have stymied his progress.

Tsonga knows Djokovic well, as it was the man from Belgrade who beat him in his own and only Grand Slam final, the Australian Open of 2008. On that occasion, Tsonga was unseeded, at Wimbledon he is the No 12 seed, and against Federer he performed like a No 1, coming from two sets down to beat the six-time champion.

"It was an amazing comeback," Djokovic acknowledged. "He's been playing great in the grass-court season so far. He played really well in Queen's, and now he's been winning against top players. So he's very dangerous. We are both baseline players. I think a lot will depend on our serves. I need to serve well because that's something that he's going to do, for sure.

"I think his game as well depends on that serve. If he starts missing first serves, then I can have some more chances in the rallies. But, look, I expect a very, very even match."

Djokovic rated his opening two wins at Wimbledon this fortnight as "really good", admitted he played "not so great" against Marco Baghdatis but then raised his game against Michael Llodra in round four.

The 24-year-old was able to dismiss Bernard Tomic in the quarter-finals without being at his best and said: "[It has been] kind of up and down. But hopefully now it's going to go up." Tsonga knows where the differences between the pair lie as he prepares for his first Wimbledon semi-final.

"He's more consistent than me on his baseline," Tsonga said. "He hits the ball maybe slower than me. But he takes the ball really early, so this is maybe the difference. Maybe also my serve, because I served really well [against Federer].

"Anyway, we are different: different character, different personality. We will see. We are just different because we are not from the same country, not from maybe the same family, the same education. So it's completely different, and that's it."

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot