The Miracle of Melbourne: Federer survives seven match points to win
Roger Federer’s quest for a 21st Grand Slam title continues after the 38-year-old fended off seven match points in the fourth set against Tennys Sandgren before prevailing 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6(8) 6-3.
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Sandgren, whose only ATP title came at Auckland last year, has often produced miracles on the grandest stage and headed into the clash with Federer with a 5-2 record against top-20 players in Grand Slams - a better win percentage than the Swiss.
And it looked like the American would add another scalp as he fought back from a set down to put himself within touching distance of a semi-final as the Swiss produced an error-strewn performance - such was his frustration the 20-time Grand Slam champion would receive a code violation warning for obscene language following an errant backhand.
Federer, who took a medical timeout in set three, continued to waver in the fourth with what he would later describe as a "tight groin", but drew on all his experience to fend off seven match points – four of which came in the tiebreak – before winning the set and then sealing his spot in the next round with a break in the sixth game of the fifth.
With additional reporting from agencies
Federer: I don’t deserve this one
"You’ve got to get lucky sometimes," Federer said on court after the match, who threw down 56 unforced errors.
"I was just hoping that maybe he was not going to smash the winner, to keep the ball in play, who knows what he’s thinking about?
"I got incredibly lucky today. As the match wore on, I started feeling better and the pressure went away. I don’t deserve this one but I'm standing here and I’m obviously very happy."
The six-time Australian Open winner, who was two points from defeat against John Millman in the third round and fought back from a set down against Marton Fucsovics in the fourth round, awaits the winner of Milos Raonic and Novak Djokovic.
Wilander: The biggest miracle I’ve ever seen
Speaking in the Eurosport studio, Mats Wilander said that Federer’s comeback was the biggest miracle he had ever seen in tennis.
"I don’t think anyone except maybe Tennys Sandgren, I think he’s the only one who knew this is not in the bag," he said. "It’s tough to play a tennis match when your opponent is clearly injured. Especially when your opponent is the favourite and you have one chance in a lifetime to reach the semis of a Grand Slam.
"So I feel so bad for Tennys Sandgren but Roger Federer pulls this match out because first of all he refuses to retire and second of all he has so many different options in his game. And even limping around, not running full he can still find a way to hit different spins, serve well, come to the net, make his opponent wonder, get worse…
"I mean literally, like Roger said, he does believe in miracles and that to me… I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a bigger miracle on a tennis court."
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