Serb shows all his renowned fighting spirit in five-set thriller
Novak Djokovic saved four match points on his way to a dramatic five-set victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the French Open quarter-finals.The Serbian top seed looked down and out as Tsonga battled back from a set and a break down to lead 2-1 in sets.
Four times the Frenchman forced Djokovic to show all his skills and fighting spirit at match point in the fourth and each time Djokovic was not found wanting.
The world No.1 closed out a tense tie-break 8-6 to level the match and broke a deflated Tsonga twice on his way to winning 6-1 5-7 5-7 7-6 6-1 to set up a semi-final clash against Roger Federer.
If he comes through that and wins his first French Open on Sunday, he will hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously. Only American Don Budge and Australian Rod Laver have managed that feat before.
Djokovic was not at his best for large parts of the match and Tsonga will rue the opportunities he missed, but the Serbian showed exactly why he is ranked No.1 in the world by winning the crucial points and holding his nerve while under immense pressure in front of a partisan crowd on Philippe Chatrier.
Tsonga had promised to "fight like a lion" but he was tame in the opening set. He held his first service game but Djokovic moved into a 3-1 lead after the Frenchman double-faulted at 0-40.
Another break followed after Tsonga found the net with a forehand and Djokovic held to take the set 6-1.
Djokovic's dominance continued as he broke Tsonga early in the second set, but the fifth seed steadied the ship by holding for the first time since his opening game.
The Tsonga fightback then began as he grew in confidence. A long backhand from Djokovic gave the 27-year-old his first break point and he did not disappoint, powering down a fierce backhand volley to level.
Tsonga held before clinching the second set at the third time of asking when Djokovic over-hit a backhand.
Tsonga wasted a chance to make early inroads in the third set and Djokovic pounced in the following game to move 2-1 ahead.
The Serbian lost his next service game to allow Tsonga to level at 2-2, however.
RoarDjokovic then threw away two further break points and Tsonga made him pay by clinching the third 7-5 with a volley that was greeted by a rapturous roar from the Parisien crowd.
The top seed was handed two break points early in the fourth but Tsonga responded with two unreturnable serves.
Tsonga showed yet more resolve to send down another ace when Djokovic had a break point in the ninth game and he produced another to leave the Serbian serving to stay in the match.
Djokovic looked to be wilting under the pressure, gifting Tsonga two match points but he could not take them.
Djokovic again managed to hold his nerve under incredible pressure in the 12th game and the fourth set went to a tie-break, which Djokovic won when the fifth seed ploughed a forehand into the net.
Tsonga, physically and mentally drained from the encounter, seemed rattled and crumbled easily in the fifth.
Djokovic broke twice and clinched the match with a precision backhand to conclude an epic clash after four hours and nine minutes.
Source : SkySport.com