Roger Federer battled back from the brink of elimination on Tuesday to grab a five-set victory over American Tennys Sandgren in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.
Federer saved seven match points in the fourth set, then put away Sandgren in the fifth to win 6-3, 2-6, 2-6, 7-6 (10-8), 6-3.
Federer Matches Biggest Career Comeback
Federer looked to be finished heading into that fateful fourth set. Sandgren broke the 20-time Grand Slam winner twice in both the second and third sets as Federer struggled with a groin injury. The 38-year-old Federer acknowledged that he had little hope once he started facing match points.
“For most of the time there, I though that was it,” Federer said afterwards. “Of course, there’s little sparkles where maybe not, then you’re like, no, it is over. Only maybe when I won that fourth set did I really think that maybe this whole thing could turn around.”
Only once before in his career, back in 2003, has Federer saved seven match points before going on to win. He duplicated that feat on Tuesday when Sandgren served at match point once in the fourth set tiebreaker, while Federer held his serve with the match on the line six times.
“You can’t give a good player – let alone maybe the best player ever – that many chances to come back,” Sandgren said after the match. “They’re going to find their game and start playing well. That seemed to me what happened.”
Djokovic Pays Tribute to Kobe Bryant
Federer will next face Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open semifinals. Djokovic handled Milos Raonic in straight sets, beating the Canadian by a 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1) score to advance. The tournament favorite said he’s looking forward to another match with one of his long-time rivals. FanDuel Sportsbook pegs Djokovic as a -850 pick to win over the potentially hobbled Federer (+600), though the Serbian won’t take his opponent lightly.
“I have tremendous respect for Roger and everything he has achieved in the sport,” Djokovic said after his win. “The matchups against Roger and Rafa are the reason I am the player I am today.”
An emotional Djokovic paid tribute to the late Kobe Bryant after the match, telling John McEnroe that Bryant had played an important role in his life.
“I had the fortune to have a personal relationship with him over the last 10 years,” Djokovic told McEnroe during an on-court interview. “When I needed some advice and support, he was there for me. He was my mentor, my friend, it’s just heartbreaking to see what has happened to him and his daughter. It’s unbelievable.”
Women’s No. 1 seed Ashleigh Barty moved into the semifinals with a 7-6 (8-6), 6-2 victory over Petra Kvitova. She’ll play American Sofia Kenin in the semifinals, after Kenin beat Ons Jabeur 6-4, 6-4. Barty is a -250 favorite over Kenin (+205) in their semifinal matchup.
Australian Open Odds (Wednesday Matches)
- Anett Kontaveit (+230) vs. Simona Halep (-280)
- Garbine Muguruza (-180) vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (+154)
- Stan Wawrinka (+118) vs. Alexander Zverev (-142)
- Rafael Nadal (-280) vs. Dominic Thiem (+225)
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
The other semifinalists will be determined on Wednesday. No. 4 seed Simona Halep (-270) takes on No. 28 seed Anett Kontaveit (+220), while Garbine Muguruza (-180) battles Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (+154) in the other women’s quarterfinal. In men’s play, No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal (-280) battles No. 5 Dominic Thiem (+225), while Stan Wawrinka (+118) takes on Alexander Zverev (-142).