Match Stats/Report - Djokovic vs Tsonga, Australian Open final, 2008


Hall of Fame
Novak Djokovic beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(2)in the Australian Open final, 2008 on hard court

This was Djokovic's first Slam title. Tsonga was unseeded and playing in his first tour level final and he beat Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray among others in reaching it. To date, this remains his only Slam final

Djokovic won 136 points, Tsonga 122

Serve Stats
- 1st serve percentage (68/122) 56%
- 1st serve points won (53/68) 78%
- 2nd serve points won (34/54) 63%
- Aces 11
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (35/122) 29%

- 1st serve percentage (97/136) 71%
- 1st serve points won (69/97) 71%
- 2nd serve points won (18/39) 46%
- Aces 15, Service Winners 2
- Double Faults 2
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (39/136) 29%

Serve Patterns
Djokovic served...
- to FH 38%
- to BH 57%
- to Body 6%

Tsonga served...
- to FH 50%
- to BH 46%
- to Body 4%

Return Stats
Djokovic made...
- 95 (49 FH, 46 BH)
- 1 Winner (1 BH)
- 22 Errors, comprising...
- 10 Unforced (5 FH, 5 BH)
- 12 Forced (7 FH, 5 BH)
- Return Rate (95/134) 71%

Tsonga made...
- 85 (41 FH, 44 BH), including 9 runaround FHs & 1 return-approach
- 1 Winner (1 FH), a runaround FH
- 24 Errors, comprising...
- 14 Unforced (3 FH, 11 BH), including 2 runaround FHs
- 10 Forced (7 FH, 3 BH)
- Return Rate (85/120) 71%

Break Points
Djokovic 4/6 (4 games)
Tsonga 2/5 (4 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Djokovic 33 (11 FH, 9 BH, 5 BHV, 8 OH)
Tsonga 27 (17 FH, 2 BH, 1 FHV, 4 BHV, 3 OH)

Djokovic's FHs - 3 cc (1 pass), 3 dtl (1 pass at net), 3 inside-out (2 passes at net) and 2 inside-in
- BHs - 2 cc (1 pass), 5 dtl (1 return, 1 pass), 1 drop shot and 1 lob

- 3 OHs were on the bounce - 1 from no-man's land, a forced back net point

Tsonga's FHs - 7 cc (1 runaround return, 1 at net, 2 passes), 1 dtl, 1 dtl/lob, 4 inside-out and 4 inside-in
- BHs - 2 dtl (1 pass at net)

- 4 from serve-volley points
- 2 first volleys (2 BHV)
- 2 second volleys (1 FHV, 1 OH)

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Djokovic 54
- 33 Unforced (18 FH, 14 BH, 1 BHV)
- 21 Forced (11 FH, 9 BH, 1 BHV)... with 1 FH running-down-drop-shot at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 47.6

Tsonga 66
- 40 Unforced (22 FH, 15 BH, 2 FHV, 1 BHV)... 1 FH was a ball he made then incorrectly challenged
- 26 Forced (14 FH, 9 BH, 1 FHV, 1 BHV, 1 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 48.5

(Note 1: All 1/2 volleys refer to such shots played at net. 1/2 volleys played from other parts of the court are included within relevant groundstroke numbers)

(Note 2: the Unforced Error Forcefulness Index is an indicator of how aggressive the average UE was. The numbers presented for these two matches are keyed on 4 categories - 20 defensive, 40 neutral, 50 attacking and 60 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Djokovic was...
- 29/36 (81%) at net, with...
- 3/3 (100%) forced back/retreated

Tsonga was...
- 21/36 (58%) at net, including...
- 7/12 (58%) serve-volleying, all 1st serves
- 0/1 return-approaching

Match Report
Very good, fast paced match. Though Djokovic and Tsonga generally aren't similar of playing style, they are in this encounter. Djokovic is better in most areas - key ones being the return, defensively and off the backhand

Tsonga has slightly stronger serve, but Djokovic leads in serve-return complex due to the return part of that equation. particularly the BH return

Both players look to attack from the baseline with powerful shots and both succeed. Key difference is in defence. When Djoko attacks, Tsonga is pushed on defensive and Djoko is able to finish points most of the time by hitting winners, or beating out errors (forced or otherwise) or coming to net behind a strong approach. By contrast, when Tsonga attacks, Djoko is able to counter-attack with hard hit shots on the run to neutralize the dynamic or occasionally, turn it around regularly enough to give him a significant overall advantage

Fitness is a factor. Tsonga appears to struggle with fatigue, possibly cramping from middle of third set and his movement and play falls off. Djoko follows suit from early in 4th set and the intensity of his game drops appreciably. In last part of match, both players save their energy for their service games and on return, both play with low percentage abandon, virtually always unsuccessfully. That's not much of difference for Tsonga, who's been shut out on return most of match, but for Djokovic, its a big step down

Crowd's behaviour is noteworthy. From the get- go, they loudly get behind Tsonga. Rare to see a neutral crowd so completely in one players corner. They weren't this loud for their own Lleyton Hewitt in the '05 final. The support very popular Roger Federer received in his semi loss to Djoko is a drop in the lake compared to what Tsonga gets here. Tsonga had thrashed Rafael Nadal in the semi playing a crowd pleasing brand of attacking all court tennis - it seems to have won him many admirers. Djoko's box complains about an apparently vociferous group sitting right behind them painted up in French flag colours and officials take it seriously enough to intervene

Tsonga complains a few times about something related to Djokovic's serving. Tsonga himself plays exceptionally quickly. Djoko, though slower, is comfortably within 25 seconds just about all the time. A quirk of Djoko's serving ritual that likely disturbs the concentration of players not used to playing him is variations in his ball bouncing routine. Most players - whether fast or slow - are at least consistent in the time they take between points. Djoko isn't... one imagines that it takes some getting used to

Serve & Return
Tsonga serves better, Djokovic returns better... gap in returning is lager than gap in serving and overall, Djoko coming up ahead

There's not much in it between the two players first serves, Tsonga maybe a bit more powerful, Djokovic also strong but sending down a small number of unforceful serves in swing zone. Tsonga though serves at very impressive 71%. Djoko serves at 56%, but dominates his serve. At one stretch, he wins 23/24 first serve points. Serve does reasonable damage, as 11 aces testify to, but the high 78% winning rate is more about his ability to make most of advantageous starting position in rallies (more on that later). Not that Tsonga is far behind, winning 71% first serve points. With much higher in count, Tsonga's likely coming up ahead here

Djoko leading first serve points has much to do with the return. He thumps most balls in reach back at least firmly and usually, hard and regularly gets wide serves back on the stretch flat and near neutralizingly. Lots of credit to Djoko on the return. As well as he serves, Tsonga could have expected higher lot of free points (unreturned serves) and more weak returns he could wade into. He gets enough of both to hold comfortably enough for the most part. Djoko though does more than enough to create chances for himself

The big statistical difference is in second serve points. Djoko wins large 63% to Tsonga's 46%. Here, quality of return comes through even more. Djoko returns hard and deep. Tsonga has his moments, particularly with runaround FHs, but is more error prone and his typical return still leaves Djoko with initiative. Some surprisingly good second serving from Djoko, who sends down a small number of forcefully wide second serves

Unreturned rates are equal at 29%. With Tsonga having stronger serve, getting 15% more first serves in and serve-volleying 12 times (to Djokovic's 0), that reflects a huge win for Djoko on the return

No safe place to serve to Djoko. Tsonga is smart to distribute serves near evenly. There's virtually no difference in quality of Djoko's returning across wings of either consistency of damaging ability. Generally, he tends to be more consistent of BH but more damaging of FH

By contrast, Tsonga's BH return is clearly more vulnerable and less strong than FH. 11/14 of his UEs are BHs - and 2/3 that aren't are runaround shots. Regular serves can get errors from Tsonga BH, but it takes good ones to draw them from FH. Djoko's also much better at swinging serve out wide to FH in deuce court than he is to BH in ad
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Hall of Fame
Play - Baseline & Net
Action is baseline-based, duel winged, hard hitting with a attacking bias. The two players vie for command of points hitting hard almost always and regularly wide. There's beat-down strong hitting, moving-opponent around play, no small amount of going for outright winners (usually building up to it, rarely from out of regulation positions). And coming to net to finish points

Offensively, honours are about even. Defensively, Djokovic shoots ahead

When Djoko has initiative, he pounds his advantage home. When Tsonga has initiative, he does so most of the time too, but not as often. Djoko zips about court in such situations and hits back almost as if he was in command. The kinds of shots that push Tsonga back don't necessarily do so to Djokovic. All credit to Djoko for this... both players hit well enough to push almost anyone back and it takes exceptional defensive ability to resist as Djoko does

Wins some chunk of points that way and gets errors from Tsonga going for too much because he has to go for more to finish the point

Djoko also has superiority on BH side, both offensively and defensively. His firm longline change ups allow him to control, play, or attack or thwart in a way Tsonga, who always goes crosscourt, can't.
On whole, good BH day for Tsonga. In general, he doesn't use BH damagingly but to hold up. It holds up well. He has just 1 more UE on that side than Djoko and hits cc hard. Hard enough that Djokovic potentially trying to break down his BH in ball-bashing cc rallies doesn't readily suggest itself. In other words, BH cc'ng is near even. Djoko's BH though has the extra variety and that open ups other ways for him to use the shot. He has 9 winners off the BH to Tsonga's 2

FH play is more up in the air. Djoko gets off to an error ridden start, but after that, proves very secure on the shot. Tsonga uses FH more aggressively, as he has to since he isn't able to off the other side. He has 6 more winners but also 4 more UEs. The beat down FH cc rallies are intense and about even

When two players vie for command of point (as opposed to 1 having it already), more often than not, its Djoko that's able to snatch it. He's the slightly better hitter

Look at Djokovic's net numbers. He wins a phenomenal 29/36 or 81%. Tsonga's at net same number of times (1 third of it via serve-volleying) and can manage just 58%. 2 of the points Djoko loses are two freakishly good passing shots and 1 is running-down-a-drop-shot shot. He's flawless at net. Success rate there is more a product of being able to take charge from the back and come in strongly than great volleying. He doesn't face many tough passes, but makes anything he's presented with. At least one great BHV winner to a hard hit, low ball and decisive in putting away the smash

In general, its something he doesn't do a lot of and certainly could afford to do more. He tends to command baseline points enough that coming to net wouldn't be difficult and likely wouldn't necessitate his having to make tough volleys. In this match, he works it almost perfectly. Its one more option of how to finish a point when in charge from the back - not overused, not underused and executed virtually perfectly

Its Tsonga who struggles in forecourt. He doesn't have as many chances to come in from rallying and once there, is faced with firm passes around net high. 3 UEs and FEs apiece on the volley are acceptable and the rest of points he loses are Djoko's passing winners. Better from Djoko on the pass than Tsonga on the volley

Quality of play fluctuates. Tsonga seems to have a physical problem - probably just fatigue - around middle of third set and gets bullied from the baseline. Djoko does the same a set afterwards and takes a medical time out after which he takes to caviliar attacking play on return games, as opposed to the measured, solid play leading to attack that he'd shown earlier

Match Progression
Match starts with the two trading breaks, Djoko gaining his with some strong shots, and faltering with FH to give it back. Thereafter, both player settle and the tennis is tremendous. Both serving hard (plenty of aces) but also returning firmly let alone consistently (return errors, even forced one's are low). Play is baseline based and mostly attacking of nature. Regulation shots are hit hard and deep, with significant wider hit shots and actively going for winners. Tsonga also comes to net more, Djoko's movements in defence are better

Despite good serving, games are tough. 4 go to deuce and there are no love holds. The end comes through a pair of amazing pass winners from Jo. He runs down a Djoko OH to slap away a FH cc. Next shot is even better. From a hopeless position well behind baseline and having to run full tilt to reach a volley into open court, Jo almost with his back to net, manages to get a FH winner. Its hard to even describe the shot, half way between a dtl and lob. Earlier in set, Djoko had pulled off a stunning, on full-stretch BH cc pass winner too that would rate somewhere between these two final shots in difficultly

Djoko seems a bit distracted or irritated at start of second. His family have some trouble with raucous Tsonga fans sitting right behind them. Some careless errors from Djoko at start of set, but he settles down. And this time, its he who starts coming forward to finish points

Again, a terrific return game settles the set. Djoko slaps down an OH on bounce from no-man's land after overpowering Tsonga, authoritively blocks a huge first serve to the body BH dtl for a winner and breaks with a wide FH cc that Jo can't handle. Its Jo's turn to stumble and he plays a bit loosely towards end of set. Djoko serves out to love with 4 unreturned serves

Djoko dominates third set. Its hard to tell if that's due more due to Tsonga's level dropping a bit, or Djoko's rising. Some of both, but which more? Baseline rallies continue to be hard hitting, but Djoko is able to take charge from even starting point and to finish points when he's done so. Tsonga has initiative too, but Djoko's defence is excellent and he resists being beaten down in a way Tsonga isn't. About mid-way through set, Tsonga's level definitely drops, he serves less hard, moves slightly worse and appears tired.

Djoko grabs first break early with his BH dtl controlling play. He adds another to end the set. Its a long, 16 point game and Tsonga serve-volleys 6 times in it. Doesn't find it easy to control the volley against Djoko's firm returns and gives up the break missing a slightly wide FHV

Having lost served just 20 points to Tsonga's 39 in third set, all the momentum is with Djoko going into the 4th set. Early-middle of set, he shows strong signs of physical discomfort. This is his norm for this period and he tended to often be winded or tired after 3 or 4 tough sets. He takes a medical time out after struggling to hold for a 3-2 lead

Thereafter, Djoko takes it easy on return games and goes in for big returns, attempted point ending groundstrokes early in rallies, coming to net, drop shots etc. ... trying to keep points short, in a phrase. To some extent, he does so on his service games also. His movement looks about the same though. Tsonga does the same and is just as ineffective on return - but he's been that way most of match. He misses a number of regulation returns, with Djoko serving less hard than earlier in match

Its Tsonga who conjures the only break point at 5-5. A daring play by Djoko to thwart it - drop shotting Tsonga in, coming in himself and putting away a BHV winner net-to-net. He follows that up with FH inside-in winner and goes on to hold

Faulty tiebreak from Tsonga. He opens by missing a near regulation BHV and follows by missing a third ball FH inside-out that he goes for too much on. Djoko takes initiative too with a couple of net points, but its more poor from Tsonga than good from Djoko. Tsonga adds a double fault, a missed BH dtl winner attempt and on Djoko's first match point, another FH inside-out miss

Summing up, very good all court match. Strong serving from both players (Tsonga more), Djokovic returning particularly well (Tsonga faltering at times, but also well) lays the groundwork. Play is power hitting baseline based with trips to net to finish points. Good, sound attacking play from both. Defensively - including on the return - Djokovic has significant advantage. He hammers down Tsonga to put points to bed, including by coming to net to slamming them down while able to resist having the same done to him when the shoe is on other foot

Very impressive, all court, all skills showing from Djokovic. Tough attacking stuff from Tsonga too, but he trails a bit from baseline, especially off BH, and Djokovic's excellent in nursing small advantages into finishing points

@The Guru - thoughts?

Stats for semi between Djokovic and Roger Federer - Match Stats/Report - Djokovic vs Federer, Australian Open semi-final, 2008 | Talk Tennis (
Stats for Indian Wells final between Djokovic and Mardy Fish -


Bionic Poster
First Slam final I really remember well. Awesome match, Both Tsonga and Djokovic were in tip top form. Actually I still think that this was one of Djokovic's best forms at the AO, his serving performance in particular was outstanding.
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Third Serve

Talk Tennis Guru
Djokovic's second-best AO win imo. His all court game, as you noted, was astounding throughout the tournament. Do wish Tsonga would have made this a little tighter after that magnificent SF performance, though.

mike danny

Bionic Poster
Djokovic's second-best AO win imo. His all court game, as you noted, was astounding throughout the tournament. Do wish Tsonga would have made this a little tighter after that magnificent SF performance, though.
Among the guys against whom the Big 3 won their first majors, Tsonga played by far the best.

The Guru

Interesting analysis. I haven't seen the match since I watched it live so there were some things I forgot. I'm shocked at how proficient Novak was at the net that is very atypical of this period of his career. What's a lot more typical is his lack of physicality and stamina costing him deeper in matches. Thanks for another great write up!