Muhammad Ali Reborn

If you turned on your cable TV set and watched Star Sports from 5 to 7 p.m. last night, you’d be in disbelief, puzzled, scratching your head. Rafael Nadal? The world no.2? The man who hasn’t lost a set at the Oz Open? He’s being clobbered in straight sets by an unknown, unseeded, unheard-of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga?

Yes, yes, yes. As unbelievable as it was to watch it, here’s something to believe in: A superstar is born in Tsonga. He’s quick, serves 220-kph aces, has an all-power forehand; he can attack, drop volley and, what’s best, he’s charismatic and looks like Muhammad Ali.

Now… Imagine this Sunday finale: Roger “The Greatest” Federer against the man who looks exactly like “The Greatest.”

Categorized as Tennis
John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!


  1. John you make the comment quite rightly under normal circumstances . . . Now… Imagine this Sunday finale: Roger “The Greatest” Federer against the man who looks exactly like “The Greatest.”
    But I think you would have to agree that this Open has been anything but normal and maybe tonight there could yet be a sting in tail of this semi final.
    At times Federer has looked vulnerable and at other times he has looked what he is . . the El Supremo of men’s world tennis. So whilst I agree that under normal it would be #1 v unseeded these are not normal times.

    John did you notice the celebration of Tsonga after the match v NADAL. He was so humble even you might say embarassed as he met Nadal at the net BUT once the formalities were finished then he really enjoyed himself as he celebrated.

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  2. Graeme,

    You’re absolutely right! When Tsonga finally won that last point against Nadal, he didn’t jump or throw his racquet in the air to celebrate, he calmly… walked. This man is so COOL. And only after shaking hands with Rafa and the chair umpire did he celebrate by smiling and jumping. Amazing talent. This man is no fluke… he won the U.S. Open Juniors a few years back (beat Baghdatis) and he might win the Australian Open on Sunday. As much as I like Federer, I hope Tsonga wins. How about you?

  3. The guys got class and respect meeting Nadal at the net the way he did. I’ve seen him play last year but he had a lot of extra weight on. He has gotten a lot fitter.

  4. John you are still of the opinion that Federer will win tonight. well we will just have to wait and see. I love Federer but this young JOKERvic is a brash upstart who has said that he wants the number 1 position.

    Apart from how Tsonga reacted to his victory I tink te most amazing thing about him is his quick feet (for a big man) and the lightness of his feet. As an example there was a point wherein Nadal played a drop shot and Tsonga got to it from behind the base line and won the point. He got there so effortlessly.
    There were complaints from Hantuchova about Aussie Ana’s shoes squeaking as she was preapring to receive a serve from her. In fact she stopped serving at one stage and complained to the umpire.

    No such sqeaking of shoes with Tsonga. I just cant believe how light he is. He looks like Ali and floats like a butterfly and certainly stings like a bee around the court..

  5. Graeme,

    FEderer just lost. As much as I like Roger, I think this is great for tennis. Not in a looooooong time have we seen a Grand Slam final contested without the initials of RF and RN in the roster. Tsonga? I’m rooting for him and so will millions of others including you, I’m sure, Mr. Mackinnon. Right? I love that quote you mentioned…. “He looks like Ali and floats like a butterfly and certainly stings like a bee around the court..” Perfect!

  6. There have been many fairy tale endings to many tournaments competitions etc and this could be an other one. As you know I have been watchin g Tsonga for a while now and have been and to be perfectly honest I have been waiting for him to crumble under the weight of expectation but it has not happened . . . yet! Will it happen in the final? I hope not. His attitude is impeccable on the court . . . while he is going well. But what happens when he comes up against someone who will challenge and fluster him.
    Djokovic talks the talk and last night he walked the walk but to be honest tomorrow I hope he stumbles. I think we have become so used to the conservatism and humility of Federer at the top that I cringe at the thought of this guy going to number one . . . even if he does wear adidas.
    Federer was not at his best in the game last night but he was at his very very best during his press con after the game. Absolutely brilliant and nothing more than you would expect from such a sportman and a gentleman

  7. Graeme, that was very, very well-said by you…. Decided to post your entire comment in my blog. Thanks again for these excellent comments, mate!

  8. Mate I am happy to be able to have a conversation with you and keep up with what is happening in Cebu sports through you and the newspapers there. Although I have football flowing through my veins tennis was my first sport played at the age of six. I believe that tennis did a lot for my footwork and manoeuvrability.

    It is a long time now since I was in Cebu (31/2 years) but it feels so much longer. I hope to be back in Cebu by possible April and will look forward to having a coffee with you in the spa’s you keep talking about. One thing I wont be doing is going on early morning jogs. Unless I drive the car coz my knees are screwed. Well that is not entirely correct. They are in such poor condition after years of abuse they are in desperate need of some maintenance to be screwed to get them back to some sort of normality again. hahahaha

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