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Tennis News – Federer Fends Off Seven Match Points To Set Up Australian Open Showdown Against Djokovic

By Ricky Dimon

For the second time in five rounds, Roger Federer made a great escape to keep his hopes alive for Grand Slam title No. 21 overall and Australian Open title No. 7.

Speaking of seven….

Federer saved an unbelievable seven match points before overcoming Tennys Sandgren 6-3, 2-6, 2-6, 7-6(8), 6-3 during quarterfinal action on Tuesday afternoon. It came four days after the 38-year-old Swiss erased an 8-4 deficit in the final-set tiebreaker to defeat John Millman 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(8) in the third round.

Fast forward four days and Federer survived the first three match points against  Sandgren while serving at 4-5 in the fourth. Three more in a row came and went for the world No. 100 starting at 6-3 in the ensuing tiebreaker. Sandgren struck two errors and then watched Federer come up with a swinging forehand volley winner to reach 6-6. A seventh chance for Sandgren evaporated at 7-6 with a netted slice backhand at the end of a prolonged rally.

Four points later, the set concluded in appropriate fashion when the 28-year-old American sent an overhead sailing past the baseline.

With Federer struggling due to a groin problem and Sandgren all but finished mentally, the fifth set was never going to be one for the video archives. And it wasn’t. But the third seed came up with enough goods at 3-2 for what proved to be a decisive break. From there he coasted the rest of the way on serve and mercifully crossed the finish line after three hours and 31 minutes.

“I believe in miracles,” Federer told Jim Courier during the post-match interview, explaining why he never took a medical timeout for the groin issue.

“You hope sometimes you can solve things with a medical timeout, but that was not really the case. Of course, it was already that third set was halfway gone anyhow, so it was just a matter of coming to terms with what do I have (and) what don’t I have in my game. I figured in the fourth set somehow things could go quickly or maybe I’ll hang around for a bit, eventually he’ll get the break, because he was playing very well. Yeah, so for the most time there I thought that was it. 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.”

Turn around it did, and now Federer’s reward is a semifinal showdown against Novak Djokovic. The second-ranked Serb enjoyed a much more routine day at the office with a straight-set victory over Milos Raonic.

“Whenever we get a chance to play each other, we understand it takes a big effort and it’s required from us to come up with the best game in order to win against each other,” Djokovic commented. “(At) Wimbledon last year, he had two match points, he was one shot away from winning that match. It’s not like I’ve been dominating the matchups. Roger is Roger. You know that he’s always going to play on such a high level, regardless of the surface. He loves to play these kind of matches, big rivalries, semis, finals of Grand Slams.

“What he did today was amazing. He showed me he’s one of the best players of all time. I mean, he never gives up. When it matters the most, he’s focused and he plays his best tennis. Sandgren had chances. Out of those seven match points, there were five match points where they actually had rallies. But credit to Roger. Amazing that he managed to come back.”

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

Editors Note • We’ve checked with the amazing Greg Sharko of the ATP. Ready • Roger Federer has NEVER quit a match once he has started playing. Ready for the magic number. Drumroll • 1,512 matches without a retirement.


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