Different faces set in Australian duel

It will be Tsonga vs.
Djokovic, not Federer and Nadal, in the showdown.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — One Australian Open finalist is a Muhammad Ali look-alike who has dazzled the crowds with his enthusiasm and his ability to change the pace of a match.

The other is best known for his fan-pleasing on-court antics such as impersonating Maria Sharapova.

And, surprisingly, neither is No. 1-ranked Roger Federer, who was finally stopped one match short of making an 11th straight Grand Slam final.

Instead, Sunday’s final will feature Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, an oft-injured Frenchman who ousted No. 2 Rafael Nadal, against Novak Djokovic, who upset two-time defending champion Federer Friday.

A final without Federer? What will that be like?

“It means a lot to see some new faces in the finals,” said Djokovic, a 20-year-old Serb now considered the favorite against the un-seeded Tsonga. “The dominance of Federer and Nadal was just amazing the last couple of years. So I think it’s great for tennis lovers all around the world to see something new.”

And one of them will emerge with a Grand Slam title.

The 22-year-old Tsonga, with a French mother and a father who was a team handball player for Congo, showed an aggressive style as he advanced through the field in Melbourne.

He defeated No. 9 Andy Murray in the first round, No. 8 Richard Gasquet in the fourth, No. 14 Mikhail Youzhny in the quarterfinals and Nadal in three sets in the semis.

Tsonga is playing for the first time in his short career without the pain of injuries.

“I knew that I could play ... but my body was not ready,” he says in English, a language he’s not entirely comfortable speaking. “Now it is ready, so I do it.”

Djokovic is appearing in his second straight Grand Slam final after losing to Federer at the U.S. Open. He was in the semifinals at last year’s French Open and Wimbledon, giving him a streak of four straight majors where he has made the semis or better.

Djokovic has made crowds laugh by doing impersonations of Sharapova, Federer, Nadal and others, and they have been replayed on YouTube.

Djokovic said he’ll play Tsonga the same way he played Federer.

“I knew I had to believe in myself, be positive on the court, not be nervous, stay with him all the time and be aggressive,” he said.