Tennis Freaks

“1821: Nadal, I’ve noticed, has a problem with his shorts, in that they keep on getting stuck up his jacksie and he has to pull them out before every point. Not sure why he doesn’t just get a size up, he’s probably loaded.”

Tsonga v Youzhny as it happened

Australian Open, Melbourne

Men’s quarter-final result:


7-5 6-0 7-6


By Tom Fordyce

Tsonga 7-6 Youzhny
He’s done it! Youz looked like he was going to claw a set back, but Tsonga stayed strong to stick away two wonderful volleys. At match point Youzhny dinks a backhand long, and as the out call comes in, Tsonga collapses to the deck with joy. Fantastic performance, and the Aussie crowd are going looperoo.

Tsonga 6-6 Youzhny
Heartening battling from the downbeat Russian, who could have capitulated at 30-30 but instead produced his best point of the match. A yell and bellow take him into the tie-break.

Tsonga 6-5 Youzhny
Brilliant from the prowling Frenchman. Youz has a chance at 15-15 but two deep, sizzling forehands open up smash-volley chances at the net. Youz staring down the barrell again.

Tsonga 5-5 Youzhny
Hats off to Micky. Tsonga has him at deuce with teeth bared, but he rips a forehand cross-court and forces a rare error with another vice-like point. A Russian roar of “Come on!” echoes around the Rod Laver Arena.

Tsonga 5-4 Youzhny
Lordy – that didn’t take long – J-W swats Youz aside in mere easy-breathing moments. Just one game away from his first Grand Slam semi now, and Youz is wobbling on the precipice.

Tsonga 4-4 Youzhny
Youz holds in the face of another Songers onslaught, but the seams are leaking and rivets popping out all over the place.

Tsonga 4-3 Youzhny
The Songers serve comes under pressure for the very first time as a Youz volley at full stretch works a deuce. Another deuce follows as Song slips before normal service is resumed with a cold-hearted efficiency.

Tsonga 3-3 Youzhny
Mock celebrations from Youz as a lucky net-cord allows him to stagger across the line after four strength-sapping deuces. Songers had a big fat bite at a break point there but thrashed his backhand onto the tape.

Tsonga 3-2 Youzhny
What a volley from J-W – Youz smashes the ball at his chest, but he throws his racquet out and somehow controls the ball into the corner as Youz looks on in dejected astonishment. Back at his chair, it’s banana o’clock.

Tsonga 2-2 Youzhny
Let’s look on the bright side – at least he’s holding his own serve now. Although that’s about it.

Tsonga 2-1 Youzhny
The respite is brief – Tsonga rattles through his own service game in utterly unflustered fashion. What can Youz do about this, short of hurdling the net and launching into his rival with a flurry of blows?

Tsonga 1-1 Youzhny
After nine games of pain, Youz finally gets back on the board. He throws his head back and howls at the Melbourne night sky.

Tsonga 1-0 Youzhny
Youz is moving like a man in a bad dream. He’s yet to work a single break point or even deuce on the Tsonga serve, and is now mumbling under his breath in slightly deranged fashion.


Tsonga 6-0 Youzhny
No luck at all for Mick – a Tsonga backhand clips the tape and drops just over the net to set up yet another break point, before a loopy forehand dips late to bite the edge of the line and seal the set. Youzhny’s eyes have glazed over, and he staggers off to t he lockers for a mind-sharpening courtesy break.

Tsonga 5-0 Youzhny
A dismissive fifth ace from J-W, and he’s on the brink of a two-set lead here. The crowd are warming to his mix of power and cunning – particularly four boisterous Frenchmen waving a tricolour with foamy-lipped frenzy.

Tsonga 4-0 Youzhny
Shocker for Micky. He blasts a forehand long to give away his third service game in a row, and stands there in misery as Coach Sobkin grimaces like a man with an elephant on his toe.

Tsonga 3-0 Youzhny
The emergency unwrapping makes no difference. Tsonga is away like a runaway express, and Youzhny can’t get close to the brakes.

Tsonga 2-0 Youzhny
Joyous tennis from the 22-year-old Frenchman – a wonderful running top-spin lob over the scrambling Mick to smash-and-grab his fourth game on the bounce. Mick signals to the umpire that he needs assistance, and he hobbles to his chair before grabbing some scissors and slicing off the thick layers of tape he had bound around his ankles. As the umpire gives him the hurry-up, the mummy returns.

Tsonga 1-0 Youzhny
J-W’s doing to Youz exactly what he did to Andy Murray in the first round – dictating the points with a muscular meanness. Can he keep these levels up?


Tsonga 7-5 Youzhny
Brilliant steal from Tsonga, barrelling a brutal backhand across Youzhny’s chest to snatch the break and set in the blink of an eye. He celebrates with a Montyesque leap and jogs back to his chair with a satisfied frown.

Tsonga 6-5 Youzhny
J-W’s loving every second of this. His forehand is an absolute thumper, and he’s not giving Mick a glimmer of a chance. On the Ali lookalikey tip, the most obvious difference between the two is the nose. Rather than the noble mashed beak of Muhammad, J-W’s got a delicate little ski-jump.

Tsonga 5-5 Youzhny
The first sniff of a chance for Songers, working a 0-30 advantage before Youz creams a forehand down the line and drifts in a backhand for 30-30. Songers sets up a break point with his meaty forehand, Youz saves it with deep serve wide to the backhand and stays in the set when Songers goes longers with a mis-hit forehand from beyond the baseline.

Tsonga 5-4 Youzhny
J-W’s landing 80% of his first serves; Micky 90%. That’s why the break point has been as absent as a British female player from Wimbledon’s second week.

Tsonga 4-4 Youzhny
Micky goes to love, too, and we could have a ripper on our hands here. J-W broods on the baseline as the first shouts of, “Allez Tsong-gah!” go up from the stands.

Tsonga 4-3 Youzhny
Another love service game from the Frenchman. Youzhny, if you haven’t seen him before, looks a little like a more butch version of Michael Owen. Apparently he was a ball-boy at the Russia v USA Davis Cup final in Moscow in 1995. He even had his photo taken with Pete Sampras.

Tsonga 3-3 Youzhny
J-W buries a backhand cross-court to worry Mick, but the Russian stands tall on his serve to bring us level. Applause from his courtside coach, Boris Sobkin, who’s been working with him since he was ten years old.

Tsonga 3-2 Youzhny
Raking forehand from J-W to smooth over a potential hitch at 15-30, with booming serves to polish things off. His choice of refresco at the change-over is a pale orange liquid, and he sips with a face straight off the poker table.

Tsonga 2-2 Youzhny
Steady again from Mick, who’s sporting the classic tennis sock – a white mid-calf number with elasticated top.

Tsonga 2-1 Youzhny
Songers has dropped just one point on his serve so far. Apparently his nickname as a junior was Muhammad Ali, owing to his slight likeness to the Greatest Sportsman Ever (TM).

Tsonga 1-1 Youzhny
Micky does the same with minimum fuss. As you were, gentlemen.

Tsonga 1-0 Youzhny
Tsonga starts confidently, cruising his way through his first service game without breaking a bead.

1035: After the briefest of breathers, we’re almost off again. Will the chaps be able to hit the ball as hard as Sharapova? The Russian thrashed Justine Henin – must have given her compatriot Mikhail Youzhny a big lift as he seeks to reach the semi-finals.

By the way, you can also watch the action live on BBC Interactive or listen to commentary on 5 Live Sports Extra.

Story from BBC SPORT


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