Steely Novak Djokovic on top of the world

Fri Jul 1, 2011 3:46pm EDT
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By Mark Meadows

LONDON (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic is enjoying such a magical year that even patchy form and the acrobatic brilliance of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga could not stop him reaching his first Wimbledon final and becoming world number one on Friday.

The Serbian's 7-6 6-2 6-7 6-3 semi-final triumph over the Frenchman included a bout of early nerves, three great diving exchanges at the net, a topsy-turvy tiebreak and an explosion of jubilant emotion he will struggle to repeat if he wins Sunday's final.

The second seed will meet incumbent number one and defending champion Rafa Nadal in the showpiece final but will take the top ranking when the new ATP list is issued on Monday whatever happens.

The 24-year-old, who won 41 matches in a row from the start of the year before losing to Roger Federer in the French Open semi-finals, will become the first Serb to be men's world number one.

"It's definitely one of the most important achievements and days in my life, in my career. When you know you're going to be the best in the world and you're reaching the final of your favorite tournament, it's something special," he told reporters.

"(Rafa and Roger) are incredibly consistent with their success and so dominant the last couple years. They don't give you a lot of chances to become number one. So I guess you need to lose only one match in seven months to get there. If you can do that, then well done."

Djokovic made a lackluster start and was broken in the first game but he worked his way back into the set with effective if unspectacular play and was rewarded when Tsonga lost his way in the 10th game and surrendered the tiebreak 7-4.

Several athletic encounters at the net, with Tsonga diving around and playing shots practically on his knees, spiced up the semi-final and entertained the crowd with scenes rarely witnessed at the grass grand slam since Boris Becker's pomp.   Continued...