Head -to-head: 1st meeting
So, we've arrived at the final singles match of this season's first Grand Slam - drats. Anyway, No. 3 seed Novak Djokovic will take on the unheralded and unseeded Jo-Wilfriend Tsonga for the Australian Open championship - a maiden Grand Slam title for either tennis baller's trophy case.
How they got here: Nole produced his most complete performance when it mattered most, comprehensively defeating World No. 1 and 2-time defending champion Roger Federer in straight sets 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (5). Jo-Willy caused the biggest upset at this year's tourney, blowing past a shell-shocked Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. This match will be the first meeting between these two rising stars.
Here's what Nole had to say about playing Jo-Willy:
"Yeah, of course. I've seen many of his matches. As I think everybody, I was impressed with the way he plays. Obviously, as he was saying on the interviews after the matches, you know, he's just living the dream. For him it's a great achievement. You know, I'm happy to play with some younger player, you know, somebody else. So we never played against each other, so it's going to be a new experience. You know, what a way to play, you know, in the finals of a Grand Slam. He was really playing well, especially in the semifinals. Nothing to lose. Something like that I might expect in the finals. But I'll try to recover and get the tactic ready with my coach."Jo-Willy had this to say about taking on Nole:
"He won yesterday. He played well. It's never easy to beat Federer. We will play tomorrow at the final, and it's going to be a big moment of sports. [...] [Playing Rafa and Nole is] the same, no? It's the same, because Nadal is 2 in the world and Djokovic 3, so both of them won a lot of tournaments and they have more experience than me. I know it's going to be difficult, but I'm here and ready for that."Outlook: Picking the winner of this match is a real toss up. Though the Serb has much more experience in these situations, Jo-Willy played lights out against Rafa, and if he plays to that level he will be unbeatable - his raw power can blow anyone off the court. But, we think the 20-year old, as he's done throughout the tourney, will play the big points smarter and take his opportunities. We're picking Nole to win in 4 sets and take home his first Grand Slam title.
(images via TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images)