Novak Djokovic overcame a second set charge by Grigor Dimitrov to move into his third Wimbledon final in four years, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (7). For the 11th seed Dimitrov, who reached in his first major semifinal, had a 10-match winning streak snapped by the Serb.
Djokovic broke serve to go up 3-1 and held on to take the set 6-4. Dimitrov, after going down a break in the second set 1-3, with his girlfriend Maria Sharapova in attendance, the Bulgarian reeled off five straight games to even the match at a set apiece.
Djokovic came back with a more aggressive game, while the 23-year-old Dimitrov had serving woes, including a string of three double faults in the third game of the fourth set.
Roger Federer took on the big-serving 23-year-old Milos Raonic in the second of the men’s semis. Federer opened the match by breaking the Canadian’s serve and held on to take the set 6-4, Federer broke in the 9th game of the second set and held for 6-4, a feat he repeated in the third set to complete the win.
“He just played well,” said the Canadian. “I didn’t put in the serves I needed to. Normally I start off serving much better, and then he came up with the right shots.
“Pretty much every single time he was leaning the right way. He was hitting good, deep returns that didn’t allow me to sort of get into it.
“I’m quite disappointed with the level I was able to put out, Raonic added. “I know I can do much better.
“Obviously I wasn’t expecting by any means to play my best, but I was expecting much better from myself.”
“Well, it’s big in the moment itself because you just don’t know how many chances you’re going to get,” Federer talking about the first break of serve against Raonic. “I think he was in the lead maybe, 15‑Love, 30‑15. I didn’t see it coming necessarily, but I grabbed it and then ran with it.
“Because clearly I’m also looking for rhythm on my own serve, so holding for the next couple service games was important for me to stay ahead and somehow get the first set under the belt, which I did, because I don’t think we both necessarily played great in that first set.
“So it was good for me to get it that way. I just felt like I created some good opportunities when I was in his service games. Yeah, clearly looking back it’s always going to be big, any break you do, you make against Milos.”
The 27-year-old Djokovic will be going for his seventh Grand Slam title, while Federer will be looking for his 18th, a record 8th Wimbledon crown. Djokovic last played Federer in a major final back in the 2007 U.S. Open final where the Swiss defeated Djokovic in straight sets. Djokovic has lost in his last two major finals, falling to Rafael Nadal at the French Open last month and at the 2013 U.S. Open.
“I came out on the court to win, said Dimitrov. “Okay, I think I had a pretty slow start, but at some point I think I got my act together and I was really playing a good tennis.”
Dimitrov had a 6-3 lead in the fourth set tiebreak and had he won it, the match would have been extended to a fifth set.
“You never know what would have happened if I had taken that fourth set. I think at the same time I had my momentum. It’s just he came on top today, so all the credit to him.”
It may have been a disappointing loss for the Bulgarian, but it’s been a good fortnight for him.
“I think this is the first time for me to be in semifinal of a slam, so obviously to me that’s just positive,” Dimitrov said. “I’m not going to overanalyze much what’s been happening the past weeks to me because there’s no need for that.
“I think I’m in a good spot at the moment. I’m practicing well. I’m doing a good work on and off the court. I’m focusing really on every match that I’m playing, regardless. Doesn’t matter what kind of tournament I’m playing.
“It’s a good learning curve for me to put myself in such a position and play against those kind of players and attack the top in a different way.
“Of course, I’m going to have to play even better when it comes to matches like that, but it’s a good lesson for me. I can take a lot of positives out of all the matches I played out here in England. It’s been, you know, solid weeks for me.”
Djokovic, who will be playing Federer for the 35th time on Sunday talked about the keys to the match:
“We know each other’s games. We played many matches on different occasions. As you said, only once on grass court, but we played so many times in semifinals and finals of Grand Slams, different surfaces, big matches over the years. They were very exciting.
“And, of course, most of the matches we play against each other went the distance. So I’m going to be, of course, physically ready and fit to go the distance this time. Of course, there is plenty of motivation from my side to win this Grand Slam final after losing last three out of four.
Of course, I want to try to, you know, get the title. It would mean a lot mentally for me. The key against him in the game, of course, is trying to not allow him to dictate too much because he likes to be very aggressive, he likes to come to the net.
“I’m going to have to be able to get as many returns back in the court and try to also stay closer to the line, protect the baseline.”
“We both like to be close to the baseline. We both like to take charge, especially on quicker courts. He has a wonderful way of either redirecting or taking the ball early, you know, taking pace from the opponent, even generating some of his own.
“So I think that’s what makes him so hard to play. There’s not really a safe place you can, you know, play into. Like back in the day there was many guys where you just knew, Oh, this guy is a bit dodgey on the backhand. Let me play that and then build up the point from that.
“Novak can hurt you down the line or cross‑court on both sides. He’s really improved now through the years. I’ve seen him come through the ranking. His forehand, his serve, his movement clearly is what stands out the most at this moment now. He’s really been able to improve that and make it rock solid.
“I think for me it’s really important to stay aggressive against him. And especially here at Wimbledon it’s more simple how we need to play against each other. It’s not like on a slow court where you can maybe maneuver the other guy around so much.
“I think on grass it’s a bit more straightforward and I think we’re both aware of that.”
Federer leads Djokovic in head-to-head matches 18-16.