For the third time in four years here, and not without an incredible effort against an incredible young player, veteran Novak Djokovic made his way into Wimbledon’s men’s final Friday.
On a hot day that left the already battered grass courts at Wimbledon slick and fast, Djokovic came back from 6-3 down in a fourth-set tiebreaker to beat 23-year-old Grigor Dmitrov of Bulgaria, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (7).
Dmitrov, seeded 11th — 10 spots below Djokovic — had taken out Britain’s Andy Murray the previous round with a display of amazing tennis. His level did not slip against Djokovic. Djokovic just handled it better than Murray.
Match point was a forehand passing shot by Djokovic that kissed the net cord as it went over. Another half an inch and they would have played on. That was fitting and symbolic of the tightness of this match.
As Dmitrov hit amazing winner after winner and tracked down shots that few others could have, Djokovic kept looking at his friend’s box in amazement. But he kept fighting.
To come back from three set points down against a player who serves as big as Dmitrov, on a surface that rewards that almost every time, was beyond incredible. But the veteran Djokovic, winner of six major titles to date at age 27, did just that.
Djokovic hit 17 aces to Dimitrov’s 15, had 45 winners to Dmitrov’s 48 and won just four more points in the match than Dmitrov, 140-136.
The match difference might have been that Djokovic saved eight break points in the match and Dmitrov just three.
Djokovic will play the winner of the Roger Federer-Milos Raonic semifinal, set to go on at the end of the first match, in Sunday’s final.