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No. 3 seed Novak Djokovic recovered from a set down to become the first Serbian Grand Slam Singles champion in history after defeating unseeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(2) in the Australian Open final at Melbourne Park on Sunday night.
Djokovic hit 46 winners and 11 aces on his way to claiming his maiden Grand Slam title in three hours and five minutes on the Rod Laver Arena.
Djokovic Victorious: How The Final Was Won
"It's probably indescribable feeling, something that I always dreamed of... I think every player dreams about winning a Grand Slam," Djokovic said. "For everybody who wins a Grand Slam, you have to give them a lot of appreciation and respect. I just felt it now... Hopefully in the future I'm gonna feel it more."
"Probably today I was a bit nervous at the start 'cause I found myself in the strange situation: that I am the favorite in the finals of a Grand Slam, which is not usual for me. So it was dangerous, but I managed to cope with the pressure well and to win.
ATP Profiles: Novak Djokovic | Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
At the age of 20 years, 250 days, Djokovic becomes the fourth youngest Australian Open champion in the Open era, just behind Mats Wilander (19 years, 111 days 1983; 20 years 109 days 1984) and Stefan Edberg (19 years 323 days 1985).
The Belgrade native is the first man other than Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal to win a Grand Slam title since the 2005 Australian Open when Marat Safin defeated Lleyton Hewitt. Federer and Nadal have accounted for the past 11 majors.
Since Rafael Nadal’s victory at the 2005 Roland Garros, Djokovic is the first first-time Grand Slam winner. The last player to claim his first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open was Thomas Johansson in 2002.
The victory earns Djokovic 1000 ATP Ranking points, firmly cementing his place at No. 3 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings. With the exception of one week, he has been ranked at No. 3 since July 9, 2007. Runner-up Tsonga rises from No. 38 to No. 18.
Djokovic dropped just one set en route to the title. His straight sets victories have included No. 19 seed Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth round, fifth seed David Ferrer in the quarterfinals and top seed and defending champion Roger Federer in the semifinals on Friday.
Djokovic’s Route to the Title
This was Djokovic’s second successive appearance in a Grand Slam final: He finished runner-up to Roger Federer in his maiden championship match at the US Open last September. In reaching the last four in Melbourne, Djokovic became the ninth youngest man to reach four or more consecutive Grand Slam semifinals, and the youngest player to complete a set of semifinal appearances at all four majors. He lost out to Rafael Nadal in the semifinals of Roland Garros and Wimbledon last year.
On his hamstring injury in the fourth set of the final, Djokovic said: "I asked for the treatment because I was sliding a lot and I felt some soreness in the hamstring.
Competing at the Australian Open for the fourth time, Djokovic previously had not advanced past the fourth round, last year losing to Federer in the round of 16. This year was also the first year that two Serbian players have featured in the men’s and women’s singles finals. Ana Ivanovic finished runner-up to Russian Maria Sharapova in Saturday’s ladies’ final.
The Serbian has now amassed eight ATP titles, five of which were won last season, including ATP Masters Series Shields in Miami and Montreal.
Djokovic now improves to 1-0 against Tsonga, and to 17-8 overall against French players.
Tsonga was attempting to become the first unseeded champion at the Australian Open since Mark Edmonson in 1976. He is the seventh unseeded player to reach the final in Melbourne.
Photo Gallery | A New Star is Born: The Rise of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
The Frenchman was also bidding to become the first player to win his first ATP-level title at a Grand Slam since Gustavo Kuerten at Roland Garros in 1997.
En route to the final Tsonga defeated three Top 10 players: ninth seed Andy Murray in the first round, eighth seed and compatriot Richard Gasquet in the fourth round, and World No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the semifinals. "Not everybody can beat the players who I beat, so to beat them gives me a lot of confidence," Tsonga said. Tsonga’s Route to the Final
The Le Mans native is just the third Frenchman to reach the Australian Open final. France has only had one champion Down Under: Jean Borotra in 1928. Arnaud Clement finished runner-up in 2001.
The 22-year-old Tsonga, who served a tournament-high 100 aces, said that he was very satisfied with his performance. "I'm very proud of myself. I'm happy for Novak, because he played unbelievable today. I don't know if I have to be sad or happy of this final, but I feel great.
It's just unbelievable because the crowd was unbelievable. A lot of noise and everything. I had goose bumps. It was crazy."
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Friday: Djokovic Reaches Second Straight Grand Slam Final
Thursday: A New Star is Born: Tsonga Reaches Maiden Final
Wednesday: Federer Locks No. 1 Ranking; Battles Past Blake
Wednesday: Djokovic Reaches Fourth Straight Slam Semifinal
Tuesday: Giant-Killer Tsonga Continues Dream Run
Tuesday: Nadal Stays Alive in Hunt for No. 1s
Monday: Djokovic Ends Hewitt's Dream; Meets Ferrer in QFs
Monday: Blake Sets Up Federer Showdown in Quarterfinals
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