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Congo's Tsonga Rising
By Frankie Edozien

For tennis fans, the just concluded Australian Open Grand Slam tournament - the first major tournament this year in tennis, has been a revelation. On the men's side, it was expected to be a contest between the world's top two players and 127 participants to culminate the end of two weeks of play.

However, the number one tennis player, Roger Federer, was knocked out by 20-year old Novak Djokovic of Serbia who went on to win the entire tournament and as a result, is now ranked number three in the world. Upset, of course, but not earth shattering.

A young upstart, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a Congolese ranked 38th in the world, obliterated the number two player Rafeal Nadal. That, however, was earth shattering as was his meteoric rise throughout the entire tournament.

Tsonga, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Mohammed Ali, had Australian fans cheering wildly for him as he knocked off higher ranked players to land himself in contention for his first ever tennis title at age 22.Ã' Ã' Ã' 

The power server is the son of a French woman, and is fathered by a chemistry teacher, Didier Tsonga, who played international handball for Congo. Ã' The elder Tsonga was once declared the best handball player on the continent.
Tsonga's remarkable son uses the French nationality; his succession of winners riveted Australian and French fans, all of whom embraced him. As the Melbourne Tournament went on, French sports papers' featured his victory, including the defeat of each tennis giant he played. This earned him more Aussie fans as the tournament went on.
As Tsonga battled valiant in the finals, it was clear that he would not stop fighting until the end, making his parent extremely proud.Ã' Ã'  The 15,000 fans in the audience never stopped cheering.

But Djokovic prevailed, making history by being the first Serb to win a Grand Slam, coming from behind to register a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7/2) victory over TsongaÃ'  in three hours six minutes.

After collecting his trophy, Djokovic had this to say "I know the crowd wanted him [Tsonga] to win more. That's O.K. It's all right. I still love you guys."

According to Tsonga, having his father there was a dream come true, especially for the old man who has always wanted to see him on top.Ã' Ã'  Tsonga continued "For me, it was very important, because of one of my father's dreams - it was to come here, and I did it, so it's good."Ã'  The crowd's cheer was unbelievable. I had frisson [goosebumps]." In addition, Tsonga added that he was very proud of himself

His approximately $680,000 prize reward as runner up in the tournament values more than Ã' his career earnings of the last two years, $460,000. Maybe one day, he'll play for Congo.Ã'  Tsonga now leapfrogs from Number 38 in the world to 28 in the rankings.