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The Draw: 30 June

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Saturday, 15 July 2017 11:11 AM BST
Iconic images: Tsonga and Djokovic - the belly-flop rally
A new series looking at some of Wimbledon's iconic photography READ MORE

As The Championships’ photographic manager, Bob Martin appreciates the finer details of the images which every day capture the essence of Wimbledon. In this series celebrating the best of the AELTC’s talent behind the lens, he nominates his Picture of the Day.


As athletes prone to spectacular on-court gymnastics, Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are high on the list of photographers’ favourites. They don’t just move about the court supremely well; they slide, dive, lunge and, in Djokovic’s case, do the splits as they go for winners and retrieve the apparently irretrievable. A lot was at stake in their semi-final of July 1, 2011. The Serb would rise to world No.1 with victory, and both men were bidding to reach a Wimbledon final for the first time. Cue, some serious acrobatic endeavours.

“This is a fantastic, quintessentially Wimbledon scene on Centre Court,” says Bob. “Djokovic has fallen face down on to the ground but, in falling, he has got the return in, and Tsonga, in turn, is having to dive to try to answer. It’s a classic men’s singles action picture. It is not a newspaper picture, but it is a beautiful photograph. The composition is wonderful. You see all the elements of Centre Court – the players on the court at the centre, the chair umpire, line judges, ball boys and girls, even the Chelsea Pensioners in the far right corner.”

It was 3.06pm and the scoreline was 7-6 6-2 4-3 in Djokovic’s favour with the Frenchman staging a mini comeback when this “belly-flop rally” thrilled the crowd – and Tom Lovelock captured the iconic moment. Djokovic slid and dived, but Tsonga launched himself mid-air and, stretching wide once more on the volley, won the game.

“It was one of those rare moments,” recalls Tom. “Tennis players are not often leaping dramatically or lying on the ground but happily these two elements occurred at the same time. That’s what I like about the picture. Lots of photographers shoot very tight, looking for an action shot of one player, but I was looking for a picture of two players, and something that tells more of a story than a straight action picture – and it happened to come together. As a photographer, you can only capture what happens in front of you. The Championships’ mantra is ‘In Pursuit of Greatness’, and you always want to come back with something unique. I remember being in the photographers’ box that day and everyone else was on a long lens and very happy they’d got Tsonga diving at the net. And then, they realised Djokovic was lying on the floor…”

Technical info: This image was shot on a Nikon D3S, at a shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second with an F6.3 aperture using a 70-200 lens set at about 120mm and a sensitivity setting of 400 ASA.

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