London, England (SportsNetwork.com) - Former champion Novak Djokovic held off rising Bulgarian star Grigor Dimitrov on Friday to reach his third Wimbledon final in four years.
The top-seeded Serbian stalwart snuck past the 11th-seeded Dimitrov in 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (9-7) fashion on another beautiful day on Centre Court at the All England Club.
Djokovic will now appear in his 14th career major final, seeking a seventh championship. A big victory on Sunday would propel him back to the world No. 1 ranking.
Sunday's other finalist will be fourth-seeded former No. 1 great Roger Federer or eighth-seeded Canadian slugger Milos Raonic.
In the first set on Day 11 of the fortnight, Djokovic recorded the only break en route to winning the stanza against Dimitrov.
The Bulgarian, however, leveled the match in the second after Djokovic blew a 3-1 lead, as the talented Dimitrov surprisingly won five straight games to stun his Serbian counterpart.
With no breaks of serve in the third, Djokovic would easily prevail in a tiebreak to forge ahead.
The fourth set then saw the Serb break for a 2-1 lead, but Dimitrov broke right back on his way to a 3-2 edge.
Djokovic saved a set point while trailing 4-5 and staved off three more after trailing 3-6 in the fourth-set tiebreak. Dimitrov then committed an untimely double fault to give Djokovic a 7-6 lead, but then saved a match point with a forehand winner.
But two points later it was over, as Djokovic converted on his second match point by clipping the net cord with a forehand pass winner.
Djokovic wound up with 45 winners, including 17 aces, in the three-hour affair. Dimitrov actually had more winners (48), but also misfired for 33 unforced errors and eight double faults.
Djokovic improved to 4-1 lifetime versus Dimitrov, including 2-0 at the majors. He also beat the Bulgarian at Roland Garros last year.
The 27-year-old Djokovic is now 3-3 in his Wimbledon semifinals, while the 23-year-old Dimitrov was playing in his first-ever major semi.
Dimitrov captured his first-ever grass-court title at London's Queen's Club three weeks ago and had been an unblemished 9-0 on grass this year.
The six-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic, who was the French Open runner-up to Rafael Nadal last month, captured his lone Wimbledon title in 2011 and was last year's runner-up to Andy Murray, who lost to Dimitrov in straight sets in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Djokovic has now secured berths in 12 of the last 16 Grand Slam finals. The Belgrade native is 44-22 in his overall career finals, including 3-1 this year, with a trio of Masters titles and a French Open loss to the current world No. 1 Nadal.
07/04 11:49:41 ET