Wimbledon 2014: Novak Djokovic reaches final as Maria Sharapova watches Grigor Dimitrov battle in defeat

The 2011 winner is into Sunday's final

Novak Djokovic defeated Andy Murray's conqueror Grigor Dimitrov to reach his third Wimbledon final in four years.

The Serbian, the winner in 2011 and beaten by Murray last year, edged a tense four-set battle 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7/2) 7-6 (9/7).

Dimitrov, who was watched by girlfriend Maria Sharapova, certainly had his opportunities but missed four chances to extend his first grand slam semi-final to a fifth set.

Djokovic has taken over from Roger Federer, who he could meet in Sunday's final, as the master of consistency at the grand slams, failing to reach the last four just once in his last 17 tournaments.

This is the 12th time he has made the final in that run, and the challenge for the Serbian now will be to reverse a trend that has seen him win just one of his last six finals.

 

Dimitrov has made rapid strides under tough Australian coach Roger Rasheed but it was his victory over Murray in the last eight that really announced him as one not just for the future but for the present.

As poor as the defending champion had been, Dimitrov had played a complete match, full of attacking flair but also rock solid defence.

It could not have been more different in the early stages this time, a gusty breeze and no doubt plenty of nerves combining to leave Dimitrov looking like he was running in treacle.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic receives a ball before serving during his men's singles semi-final match against Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov Serbia's Novak Djokovic receives a ball before serving during his men's singles semi-final match against Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov  

The Bulgarian, on a nine-match winning streak which had taken in his Queen's Club title, was making basic errors, mistiming shots and Djokovic, without playing particularly well, eased into a set and 3-1 lead.

But from there the momentum abruptly shifted.

First Dimitrov saved a break point with an ace, effectively keeping the set alive, and a game later he was back at 3-3 when Djokovic netted a backhand.

The top seed had not managed to shake off the tension and he looked despairingly towards his supporters in the player box - his pregnant girlfriend Jelena Ristic was absent.

But Djokovic could not turn the tide back his way, and the lack of clarity in his thinking was demonstrated when, on set point, he chose to stop the rally and challenge a ball that was shown to be in.

Both men knew the importance of the third set but there was no doubt Dimitrov, the novice semi-finalist, looked much more comfortable.

Djokovic had been slipping a lot on the worn grass and changed shoes after the fifth game, but his foothold in the match remained far from secure.

Grigor Dimitrov pictured during his semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic Grigor Dimitrov pictured during his semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic  

At 3-3 he faced the first break point of the set and was very fortunate to save it, scrambling Dimitrov's fizzing return just over the net with an unconvincing backhand.

The third-set tie-break was a crucial moment in the match but Dimitrov never threatened to make it close, and it got worse for the young Bulgarian when he double-faulted three times in a row to hand Djokovic a break in the third game of the fourth set.

But Djokovic did not make him pay, handing the break straight back, and he had to fight off three break points in his next service game.

Grigor Dimitrov pictured during his semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic Grigor Dimitrov pictured during his semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic  

Dimitrov still firmly believed the match was there for the taking and brought up a set point at 5-4 with a volley at full stretch that caught the edge of the line.

He pumped his fist but could only net the return on the next point, and Djokovic roared long and loud when he clinched the game.

The top seed was on the ropes again in the tie-break when Dimitrov brought up three more set points at 6-3 in front, but he could not take any of them.

A first match point came and went for Djokovic, but on his second opportunity a Dimitrov volley set up the chance for a cross-court forehand winner and he took it, with a little help from the net.

PA

News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Sport
sport
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed