Novak Djokovic battled past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to reach his first Wimbledon final and replace Rafael Nadal at the top of the world rankings.
The second seed won 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-7 (9-11) 6-3 in three hours, six minutes.
Djokovic dominated after edging a tight first set but flashes of brilliance kept the Frenchman alive in the third.
However, Djokovic held his nerve in the fourth set and the Serb will go on to face Rafael Nadal in Sunday's final after the Spaniard beat Andy Murray.
The two-time Australian Open winner, who has now lost only one of his last 50 matches, will be aiming to leave SW19 with a third Grand Slam title to go with his new accolade as the world's top player.
Since March he has overhauled Federer, the only person to beat him in 2011, and now ended Nadal's 13-month reign.
"They don't give you a lot of chances to become number one," Djokovic said afterwards with a smile. "I guess you need to lose only one match in seven months to get there."
He is likely to face a more sustained challenge in the final than he faced from the flamboyant Tsonga, who flitted in and out of their clash mixing moments of acrobatic genius with the sloppiest of mistakes and made 29 unforced errors in all.
The powerful 26-year-old, playing in the last four at the All England Club for the first time, attacked from the start and made the most of a tense opening by Djokovic that saw him broken when he sent a wild forehand flying long.
Tsonga survived repeated pressure on his own serve but cracked when he was serving for the set at 5-4, gambling on a 133mph second serve that failed to clear the net and being broken back when he put a forehand wide.
More mistakes followed in the tie-break, which Djokovic wrapped up on his second set-point when Tsonga flopped a routine volley into the net.
The second set was a one-sided affair, mainly because Tsonga's first serve deserted him and Djokovic was able to rip into his slower second delivery, breaking twice to go 4-1 up before wrapping it up in only 28 minutes.
A rapid conclusion to the match looked likely when Djokovic broke again at the start of the third set but Tsonga, helped by his brutal forehand and the backing of the Centre Court crowd, soon returned to life.
He won three games in a row to go from 2-4 to 5-4 before the pair shared breaks and some thrilling exchanges to take the set to a tie-break.
That proved just as tense, with Tsonga denying Djokovic on two match-points with a smash and an ace before he saw out the set on his third set-point when the Serbian went long with a return.
Tsonga had fought back from two sets down to beat six-time champion Roger Federer in the quarter-finals but his hopes of a repeat were hit when he was broken to love at the start of the first set and soon found himself trailing 1-4.
There was still time for more moments of brilliance from the world number 19, in particular a lob that helped him hold at 2-5, but he could not stop Djokovic serving out to complete a memorable victory.
A delighted Djokovic, who sank to the ground to kiss the Centre Court turf in celebration, told the BBC: "It is difficult to put it into words but it is one of the best feelings I have ever had on a tennis court.
"My dreams are coming true. It will be my first Wimbledon final and I am so happy to be through. Hopefully there will be more celebrations to come."
Tsonga praised Djokovic, saying: "Today I played well. My opponent was just better than me.
"I tried to take my chance on every point, but it was just tough because he was running everywhere and the ball was coming back all the time. I feel tired after this match."