Tennis
Djokovic wears down nervy Dimitrov to reach final
TENNIS

Djokovic wears down nervy Dimitrov to reach final

Novak Djokovic booked a place in his third Wimbledon final in four years by battling past a nervy Grigor Dimitrov in four sets.

The world number two and top seed saw off a determined effort from the Bulgarian that was undermined by a string of errors, eventually booking his place in the showpiece with a 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (9-7) success on Friday.

Having dispatched defending champion Andy Murray in confident fashion two days previous, few would have expected Dimitrov to be daunted by the prospect of a maiden grand slam semi-final.

But his nerves were evident as early as the fifth game against the player Murray defeated in last year's final, when he surrendered a break of serve to Djokovic with a succession of errors and a double fault.

That one break was to be enough for Djokovic to clinch the opening set, which was secured as Dimitrov sent a backhand slice long.

Dimitrov committed a total of 33 errors in a gripping encounter and, when his backhand clattered off the net cord and out to hand Djokovic another break, many in the centre court crowd will have expected the match to go same way as the last encounter between the two at the French Open, which the Serb won in straight sets.

Yet Dimitrov's response was nothing short of magnificent as he displayed remarkable maturity at a key moment in the match, saving a break point at 3-1 down before winning the next five games to level the contest.

The fact that Dimitrov was able to fight back owed as much to misjudgement from Djokovic as it did to the 23-year-old's talent.


First, Djokovic hit a forehand volley wide to give Dimitrov a 5-3 lead, before stopping play in the very next game to unsuccessfully challenge a line call, forfeiting the point as Dimitrov kept his hopes very much alive.

However, Djokovic's reputation as one of mentally strongest players in the game has been well earned and was demonstrated once again, the six-time grand slam champion re-establishing command in a third set in which he struck 19 winners and eight aces before dominating proceedings in the tie-break.

The solidity of Djokovic's game inevitably drew further mistakes from the less-experienced Dimitrov, who seemed to wilt under the spotlight of tennis' biggest stage when he hit three straight double faults and a forehand error to gift Djokovic a break and a 2-1 lead in the fourth.

Former junior Wimbledon champion Dimitrov refused to lie down and accept his fate, though, immediately breaking back with a stunning passing shot that formed just one of his 48 winners in the match.


Dimitrov was even able to set up a set point when 5-4 ahead and, although he spurned that opportunity, an enthralling battle of wills appeared poised for a fifth set when he surged to a 6-3 lead in another tie-break.

But that advantage was soon eroded by a player fuelled by the frustration of losing his last three grand slam finals, before Dimitrov's eighth double fault set up a match point for Djokovic.

That match point was saved, but a fading Dimitrov finally surrendered as Djokovic sealed the win at the second opportunity with a cross-court forehand to ensure a meeting with either Roger Federer or Milos Raonic in the final.

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