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How The Match Was Won: Novak Djokovic v Grigor Dimitrov

Novak Djokovic celebrates towards his team
by Alix Ramsay
Friday 4 July 2014

The key components of Novak Djokovic’s 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(7) win over Grigor Dimitrov.

The serve: If logic dictates that attacking the second serve is the best way to beat the opposition then the simple defence is not to offer up a second serve. And Djokovic didn’t, not for the best part of eight games. He gave Dimitrov nothing to attack, nothing to work with and he had the Bulgarian stumped. By the time the match had reached boiling point in the third and fourth sets, Djokovic always found the big serve or the clever serve when he was in trouble. He racked up 17 aces to Dimitrov’s 15 but Dimitrov complemented them with eight double faults, throwing in three in a row at the start of the fourth set. That was not a tactic likely to get him to the final.

Will power: Djokovic may not have been playing his best tennis – he was berating himself for allowing Dimitrov back into the match after making a near perfect start – but he had the nerve and blinkered, dogged, determination to get the job done. Dimitrov fought hard, but Djokovic simply, stubbornly, would not be moved.

Movement: Both men were, at times, struggling to keep their balance on the slick Centre Court but Djokovic adapted to the conditions better. And for all that he landed in a heap a couple of times, he did not let the conditions rattle him. By the fourth set, Dimitrov looked as if he was trying to beat Djokovic, the court and his own hopes and expectations all at once. Djokovic kept it simple and concentrated on beating the bloke with the racket in front of him.

Players’ box: Djokovic had Boris Becker cheering him on from the sidelines; Dimitrov had Maria Sharapova. Both are great champions but Boris made the Centre Court his own with three titles and seven final appearances in all. Sharapova has reached the final twice and won once. Team Djokovic, then, wins on points.

Experience: The memory of winning six major finals and reaching 13 Grand Slam finals in all can soothe a chap’s mind in the heat of battle. Djokovic knew that Dimitrov was the young talent with nothing to lose, the man standing at the head of the queue to take over from the current Grand Slam champions, but he also knew what it took to win one of these titles. When the pressure mounted, the Serb knew how to convert his opportunities, no matter how fast his pulse was racing or how hard his heart was pounding – he had done it before and he could do it again. When Dimitrov had his chances, he let them slip away.

Djokovic's route to the final:

First round: beats Andrey Golubev 6-0, 6-1, 6-4

Second round: beats Radek Stepanek 6-4, 6-3, 6-7(5) 7-6(5)

Third round: beats Gilles Simon 6-4, 6-2, 6-4

Fourth round: beats Jo-Wilfried Tsonga [14] 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(5)

Quarter-final: beats Marin Cilic [26] 6-1, 3-6, 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-2

Semi-final: beats Grigor Dimitrov [11] 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(7)

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