It must not have been easy for players of the caliber of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Juan Martin Del Potro or Marin Cilic to compete in the Big Three era. Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have established their dominance in the major tournaments of the main circuit and left very little to their opponents.
The Spaniard has won his 21st major and beat both of his rivals in the race for the Grand Slam record at the Australian Open. The three together won 61 Grand Slam tournaments, 101 Masters 1000s and 11 ATP Finals. Tsonga played in his only Grand Slam final in 2008 at the Australian Open.
A very young Djokovic thought of preventing the Frenchman from making one of his greatest dreams come true. Tsonga spoke about his adventure at the 2008 Australian Open in an interview with Eurosport. "That tournament was unbelievable.
I remember starting very well from the first round, beating Andy Murray in four sets. After beating Youzhny in the quarters, who was in excellent form, I had to face Rafa in the semis. That day I played the match of my life, it was an incredible performance, I won in three sets.
Two days after the match with Nadal, the last hurdle bore the name and surname of Novak Djokovic. We were both fighting to win the first Grand Slam title. Reaching such a high level of play was completely unexpected for me, one of the best months of my career.
The final with Djokovic is an incredible memory, I still feel the euphoria of the moment."
Nole Djokovic opens up on Nadal
Novak Djokovic has clarified that while he and Rafael Nadal are not close friends, that doesn’t mean they are on bad terms either.
“Well, look, we have to define what close friends means. We were never really as close as I would be close with my childhood friends or he would with his. We push each other, we drive each other to be the best we could possibly be with the tennis racquet on the court,” he said, adding, “It's just it's really hard [to be close friends] because [we are each other’s] main rivals.
[We] both [are] fighting for something that only one can get. But we always had respect for each other because, I think, we are all aware of how many kids look at us, look what we do, what we say, how we behave towards each other and towards the sport, towards other people. The example that we give is something that is very important to all of us,” he said.