LONDON, July 4 (Agencies): Novak Djokovic ensured Grigor Dimitrov�s uprising against tennis� established order was short lived as the top seed battled through four punishing sets in the Centre Court sun to reach his third Wimbledon final since 2011.
Queen�s champion Dimitrov had served warning he was ready to break his grand slam duck after turfing defending champion Andy Murray out in straight sets in the last eight, but his nine-match winning streak was brought to an end on Friday with Djokovic eventually triumphing 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(7) in three hours and two minutes.
Djokovic took the first set in ruthless fashion, claiming the only break point and winning 20 out of 24 points on his serve, including 100 per cent on his second serve, to close it out.
The unforced errors continued from Dimitrov as Djokovic took another early break, but the world No.13 turned the match on its head by winning five games from 3-1 down to take the second set.
A tense third was taken to a tie-break and Djokovic eased through before breaking for 2-1 in the fourth after Dimitrov double faulted three times in a row.
Dimitrov did not lie down, however, breaking back immediately and forcing a set point at 5-4, though Djokovic bailed himself out and brought up another tie-breaker. Dimitrov then remarkably blew three chances to take the match into a fifth set as Djokovic put away his second match point.
DImitrov may have fallen short on this occasion, but his time will surely come sooner than later, if this performance was anything to go by. On the back his remarkable grass-court season, the Bulgarian will break into the top 10 of the world rankings for the first time in his career next week.
For now it is still about Djokovic, though. He now has the chance to bounce back immediately from his French Open final agony, where Rafael Nadal came back from a set down to claim his ninth Roland Garros crown.
The world No.2 will be desperate to halt a worrying trend that has seen him lose five of his last six major finals, however. Djokovic admitted he had appointed Boris Becker for that precise purpose - the pair will hope it is second-time lucky after the disappointment of Paris.
Dimitrov was looking to hand Djokovic his first defeat to a player outside the top 10 at a grand slam since his 2010 Wimbledon semi-final against Tomas Berdych.
However, he got off to a poor start. Dimitrov�s fourth unforced error, as he sent a backhand long, handed Djokovic the first break of the match and a 3-2 lead in the opening set, which the top seed closed out in 27 minutes.
The unforced errors continued from Dimitrov at the start of the second. With his first-service percentage dropping to 63 percent, Djokovic attacked the second serve and Dimitrov sent a couple of shots long - one via a net-cord - to hand the world No.2 the early break for 2-1.
Two misses from Djokovic gave Dimitrov a break-back point straight away but a baseline slip allowed the Serb to pick his spot before he held.
Dimitrov�s backhand continued to misfire and Djokovic was handed another break point. But Dimitrov bailed himself out with a 130mph ace down the T and wrapped up the game.
Dimitrov then finally got his first break of the match, wasting his first chance by firing well wide as Djokovic charged towards the net but lucking out as the Serb buried a forehand on the next point.
Two more break points arrived for Dimitrov on Djokovic�s next serve, with the pair trading drop shots before Djokovic�s cross-court shot landed wide. Suddenly, Dimitrov was serving to level the match and took his second set point.
Having changed his shoes in the fourth set on his way to victory against Marin Cilic on Wednesday, Djokovic had his physio Miljan Amanovic dash down to the court with a new pair as he repeated the trick in the third against Dimitrov.
The switch appeared to pay immediate dividends again - Djokovic saved the first break point of the third set at 3-3 with a backhand that just crept over the net before holding.
Djokovic then built a 15-30 lead on Dimitrov�s next service but dumped a backhand return and shanked a forehand wide, tossing his racquet up in the air in frustration before Dimitrov held.
A 15th ace of the afternoon from Djokovic brought up 4-1 and a fifth double fault from Dimitrov made it 5-2. The Serb then took his first of four set points.
Dimitrov retreated for a bathroom break but remarkably double faulted three times to cough up three break points in his second service game of the fourth. Djokovic needed just one as he struck a significant blow.
Djokovic then saved a break point but couldn�t repeat the trick, Dimitrov sliding for a cross-court forehand that Djokovic could only return wide. Dimitrov then saved two break points to hold for a 3-2 lead in the fourth.
Next it was Djokovic�s turn to become the escape artist, a spinning forehand out wide leaving his opponent. on the floor and a smash at the net taking it to deuce. The Serb saved two more break points for a vital hold.
With Dimitrov suddenly getting to everything, though, an enormous serve from Djokovic saved set point at 5-4 and the Serb let out a primal roar.