Djokovic ends Dimitrov's run
Novak Djokovic claims there is more than just the Wimbledon trophy riding on Sunday's final against Roger Federer.
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The top seed will play for the title at the All England Club for the third time in four years after fighting off rising star Grigor Dimitrov in a 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7/2) 7-6 (9/7) victory on Friday.
He has been remarkably consistent, reaching the final at 12 of the last 16 grand slams, but, having won four of the first five, he has gone on to lose five of the last six.
Since winning his fourth Australian Open title in 2013, Djokovic has lost in the final of Wimbledon to Andy Murray and the US and French Open to Rafael Nadal.
The last of those defeats came four weeks ago, Nadal once again denying Djokovic the title he craves, and the Serbian conceded the tough losses have taken a mental toll.
He said: "Of course, there is plenty of motivation from my side to win this grand slam final after losing the last three out of four. It would mean a lot mentally for me.
"Losing three out of four, it cannot be satisfying. I don't want to sound like I'm not appreciating to play finals of grand slams. It's already a huge result. We cannot take that for granted.
"But I know that I can win the title. I should have won a few matches that I lost in the finals of grand slams in the last couple of years.
"We will try to understand what I did wrong in the French Open final from a mental perspective, and try to make it better in two days.
"Not winning a title, but being in several finals, this is something that I want to undo. Hopefully I can get the title in two days and start a new nice series of winning grand slam titles."
Djokovic hired Boris Becker as his head coach ahead of the season largely to try to give him an extra edge in grand slam finals.
It did not work in Paris but Djokovic will hope for a different result on the court where Becker had his most famous successes.
The Serbian will almost certainly need to play at a consistently higher level than he managed against Dimitrov, in a match that was compelling but rarely brilliant.
Dimitrov, fresh from ousting defending champion Andy Murray on Wednesday, made a poor start and Djokovic was in complete control at a set and a break up and with another break point to lead 4-1.
But Dimitrov saved it, relaxed into the match and reeled off five games in a row to take the second set.
The 23-year-old Bulgarian looked the better player for much of the third set, too, but could not force a break and then crumbled in the tie-break.
When Dimitrov served three successive double faults to hand Djokovic a break in the third game of the fourth set, the match looked all but over.
But again Djokovic allowed his opponent back in and had to save four set points, three of them in the tie-break, to avoid going into a fifth.
The 27-year-old frequently cut a frustrated figure, and he said: "I was a set and a break up and, again, made some unforced errors and gave my opponent a hope that he can win the match.
"That's something that I definitely cannot allow myself in the final against Roger.
"I have been going through some tough matches during this tournament. I'm going to try to use that experience in a positive way and encourage myself to get a title."
Dimitrov admitted he will be a little haunted by the one that got away.
"It's never easy when you have set points," Dimitrov said. "To go into that fifth set it's obviously a goal, but today it was just not meant to happen.
"I'm going to lie if I say I don't think about it now. I'm sure tonight I probably won't get an hour of sleep because of that or something else during the match that would affect me."
With his victory over Murray, Dimitrov really announced himself not just as a grand slam threat for the future but for today as well.
He was determined not to get too excited about his achievement, saying: "I had a good tournament. I don't want to over-analyse or make such a big, big deal out of what just happened.
"I worked for that. I think I deserve to be here. So to me, it's just a good step ahead."