Nick Bollettieri: Astute Serb keeps cool to drain power from opponent

Coaching Report
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Wow! what a match that was – from start to finish that was one hell of a roller-coaster ride between two top players, and I'm including Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as a top player.

He deserves that after the tournament he has had – coming from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in the quarters and then giving the new world No 1 a real run for his money.

Now, Federer admitted that he took his foot off the gas when he had that lead in the quarter – big mistake and it was one that Novak Djokovic was never going to make. Darren Cahill, a man I respect so much and a guy who knows his tennis, said on TV that the pressure was off Djokovic when he opened up that lead. I'm sorry, I do not agree. Especially against a guy like Tsonga you are never safe and the big guy from Serbia knew that.

Tsonga is a crowd-pleaser but Djokovic made sure the Centre Court fans did not turn against him and that's important, because support matters to players when they are out there in the heat of the action. He was excellent in keeping his cool throughout as Tsonga kept coming at him time after time. With both guys hurling themselves around on the grass it made for some spectacle, but Djokovic kept responding and it was that which enabled him to win through in the end.

Tsonga has so much power, a huge serve and a pounding forehand. Man, he was blasting those forehands down the line at 101mph. What Djokovic did – and this is pretty unusual to see – was to drop deeper. He edged further and further behind the baseline and that helped him offset the Frenchman's power.

Tsonga made a tactical mistake, too. He tried to take on Djokovic down the line on his backhand, an area where Djokovic is strong. Tsonga is an up and down player. One moment he is unstoppable – he served more than twice as many aces as his opponent – and the next he is shooting himself in the foot. He made 29 unforced errors over his three hours on court. Djokovic made 13 – and that's a telling statistic.

Djokovic is on the run of his life – that's why he's at No 1 now – but it is not rankings that people remember, it is Grand Slams and he will have to improve his serve from yesterday in tomorrow's final. But the rest of his game is in pretty damn fine nick as he looks for a first Wimbledon crown.