MELBOURNE, Australia - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had been compared to a young Muhammad Ali only because of an uncanny likeness to the boxing great.
That was until he skipped across Rod Laver Arena, arms up in a biceps-flexing pose, thumbs pointing at his head after knocking out Rafael Nadal in the semifinals and getting a title shot at the Australian Open.
Nadal, ranked No. 2, got a taste of what No. 8 Richard Gasquet, No. 9 Andy Murray and No. 14 Mikhail Youzhny faced in earlier rounds.
Tsonga's groundstrokes were audacious, his hand speed amazing. And he had the Spaniard stumbling well before he aced him on match point. The unseeded Frenchman, hampered by injuries for much of the last three seasons, eliminated Nadal 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.
'For me it's a big dream. It's just amazing - I played unbelievable,' Tsonga said. 'Everything went in. My backhand worked a lot and my serve also. My forehand, my volley, my drop shot, everything. I was moving on the court like never I move, so everything was perfect.'
This was Nadal's worst defeat at a major since his second-round loss to Andy Roddick at the 2004 U.S. Open 6-0, 6-3, 6-4.
Roger Federer plays No. 3 Novak Djokovic in the other semifinal today. Federer has played in the last 10 Grand Slam finals, including a win over Djokovic in the last U.S. Open final, and is bidding for a 13th major title.
On the women's side, No. 4 Ana Ivanovic was down a set and a break against Daniela Hantuchova before rebounding for a 0-6, 6-3, 6-4 win to reach her second Grand Slam final. She will meet another 20-year-old player, Russia's Maria Sharapova, who beat Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-1.