Novak Djokovic is through to his first Wimbledon final after a thrilling 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-7 (9-11), 6-3 victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Frenchman produced a gutsy, mentally tough and quality performance, but Djokovic’s class and defensive prowess shone through. The Serb is now 47-1 in 2011 and will now become world number one on Monday.
The crowd at centre court was treated to an acrobatic display from Tsonga, while Djokovic produced some incredible shots. Djokovic’s defensive play was on a higher level and he will be a severe test for two time champion Rafael Nadal in the final.
Tsonga had sensationally knocked out Roger Federer on Wednesday after trailing by two sets, with the Swiss legend failing to gain a break point in the final four and a half sets. Tsonga had also reached the final of Queen’s, had only been broken four times during the first five rounds at Wimbledon and held a 5-2 overall record against Djokovic.
The Frenchman carried this good form into the match and raced out to an early lead, breaking Djokovic in the first game. Tsonga then hit two aces on his way to a 2-0 advantage. Tsonga failed to create any inroads into the Djokovic serve for the remainder of the first set, as Djokovic battled to regain parity.
One of the points of the tournament came in the sixth game, when both players flung themselves across the court at the net. Tsonga ultimately won the point as he scrambled to his feet and volleyed into the open court to claim a 4-2 lead.
Tsonga served for the set in the tenth game, but Djokovic crucially broke back. The Serb forced three break points, but Tsonga’s powerful serve saved all three. A double fault and unforced error from Tsonga were enough for Djokovic to level the score at 5-5.
The pair held their serve to take the set to a tiebreaker, which Djokovic won 7-4. Despite starting well, Tsonga already faced an uphill battle.
Djokovic carried his momentum into the second set and broke in the first game. The Serb broke Tsonga again in the fifth game after a series of poor shots from the Frenchman. Tsonga was failing to make an impression on the Djokovic serve, while the Serb’s impressive defensive play was extending points and leading to a number of Tsonga unforced errors. Djokovic easily held serve in the eighth game to take the set 6-2.
Things looked dire for Tsonga after Djokovic forced an early break to love in the third set. The game featured another contender for point of the tournament, but this time Tsonga’s acrobatics saw the ball drift just long.
Tsonga showed great spirit, however, and battled back to level the scores in the eighth game of the set. Djokovic missed an easy overhead to set up three break points, and Tsonga took the second after a couple of quality shots.
Djokovic broke again in the 11th game and seemed to be set for victory, but Tsonga produced an incredible game to make the score 6-6 and force a tiebreaker. A powerful down-the-line shot sealed the break for Tsonga.
The tiebreaker itself created wonderful drama. Tsonga twice went up by a mini-break, but Djokovic hit back. Tsonga was forced to save two match points during the tiebreak, the first with a quality overhead and the second with an ace. Tsonga continued to battle and won the tiebreak 11-9 on his third set point.
Tsonga seemed to expend most of his energy on his efforts to get back into the match and was less impressive in the fourth set. Djokovic broke to love in the second game and never looked back. Tsonga had a chance in the fifth game when he led 0-30 on the Djokovic serve, but the Serb held out to lead 4-1. Djokovic won the fourth set 6-3, sealing victory with a powerful serve.
Djokovic will be in confident mood entering his first Wimbledon final. The first ever Serbian world number one has been in scintillating form en route to a 47-1 record in 2011 and will undoubtedly provide a stern test to two time winner Rafael Nadal in the final.