WIMBLEDON, England — Novak Djokovic reached his first Wimbledon final and claimed the No. 1 ranking by defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-7 (9), 6-3 Friday in a match filled with diving shots by both players on the grass of Centre Court.
Djokovic, a two-time Australian Open champion, improved his record to 47-1 this year. And although he won another Friday, it was Tsonga who entertained the crowd with his tennis skills and showmanship.
In the final, Djokovic will face either defending champion Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray.
Djokovic will replace Nadal as the top-ranked player on Monday, but reaching the final at the All England Club was a relief after losing twice at the same stage.
Djokovic started the season by winning 41 straight matches, but he lost to Roger Federer in the French Open semifinals. Since then, he is 6-0, with all those victories coming at the All England Club.
“I’ve been working all my life for this,” Djokovic said. “I’ve been dreaming about playing the finals of Wimbledon since I started playing tennis when I was 4. To be able to be there on Sunday will probably be the best feeling.”
However, Tsonga, didn’t make this one easy. The 12th-seeded Frenchman went to the turf several times to knock balls back over the net, some landing in and some going long.
Twice in the third set, both players landed on the grass during the same point.
At 1-1 with Tsonga serving, the Frenchman dived to send the ball back toward Djokovic. The Serb then dived to hit a backhand across the net while Tsonga scrambled to his feet just in time to dive again and push a forehand long.
There were more theatrics in the first set.
As Djokovic clapped his hand on his racket to acknowledge the acrobatic play and the crowd applauded, Tsonga turned to the Royal Box — which included former Wimbledon champions Bjorn Borg and Goran Ivanisevic — and stretched out his arms to roaring cheers.