Roger Federer overcame seven match-points down to make it to the 2020 Australian Open semifinal, beating the fighting Tennys Sandgren in little over three and a half hours.
In a match that saw Federer struggle with his fitness, get a code violation and face multiple match-points, he came through in five sets to set up a possible meeting with Novak Djokovic. Djokovic takes on Milos Raonic in a later quarterfinal.
At the end of it, Federer went on to admit he had gotten lucky.
“Got to get lucky sometimes, I tell you that. I was just hoping, may be he will not smash a winner. I don’t got incredibly lucky. As the match went on, began to feel better. I don’t deserve this one but I am standing here and obviously very, very happy.”
It was a surprising start from Federer, who had five break-points over the first two Sandgren service games but failed to convert either. Then at 3-2, Federer broke his American opponent from 30-0 down and held his serves through the rest of the set to clinch the opener.
Federer’s first serve percentage was a healthy 70% but the lack of venom was telling in that he served just two aces all set.
Sandgren managed to hold his serve in the first game of the second set, but more vitally, he broke the Swiss maestro in the very next game. The world number 100 had a couple of break-points but needed only the first one to take a 2-0 lead before a string of unforced errors from Federer allowed him to go 3-0 up.
A string of holds took the players to 5-2 when Federer, serving to make Sandgren serve for the set, dropped serve off his 15th unforced error in the set. Sandgren made only six.
And then in the third set, things went from bad to worse for the 20-time Grand Slam winner.
Sandgren began with an easy hold and then broke Federer yet again to quickly go 3-0 up. Federer had a chance to get that break back, with three break-points at his disposal but the Swiss failed to avail of any of them. In losing the serve, Federer also earned himself a code violation for a audible curse.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2020
At this stage, Federer called the trainer out and then took a medical timeout, going off the court for assessment. He did return back and soldiered on but failed to show any change in fortunes and while serving to stay in the third set, Federer was broken again despite saving six set-points.
A ragged-looking Federer made a sterling comeback in the fourth. At different times during the set, the former world number one gave a sense he had barely any fuel left in the tank and he kept hanging in. Three match-points were saved in the 10th game of the fourth set, while Sandgren had four more of them in the tie-breaker which Federer managed to overturn to get a set-point he converted.
SEVEN MATCH POINTS SAVED.
I REPEAT, SEVEN MATCH POINTS SAVED.
— Arjun Ashok (@arj_90) January 28, 2020
Suddenly, the tables were turned and Federer slowly looked like he was getting to his best, with errors beginning to creep into Sandgren’s game as well. Things went on serve for the first five games before Federer had an opportunity to break Sandgren and he took it with both hands.
The American held on but failed to break Federer back, allowing the Swiss maestro to register his second great escape of the tournament after the John Millman match.