Friday's third-round win against local hope
John Millman, when the 20-times Grand Slam champion won six
straight points from 8-4 down in the final set tiebreaker, was
touted as the great escape.
His quarter-final victory four days later was more epic still.
Millman had a world ranking under 50 and had at least defeated
the Swiss before, at the 2018 U.S. Open.
But Sandgren had never faced Federer, who in turn had never lost
to someone as lowly-ranked as the American at Melbourne Park.
"You've got to get lucky sometimes," Federer said with a smile.
"I tell you that because in those seven matchpoints you're not
"I was just hoping that maybe he wasn't going to smash a winner,
if he misses one or two, who knows what's going to happen? I
think I got incredibly lucky today.
"... I don't deserve this one but I'm still standing here and
I'm obviously very, very happy."
Federer started strongly, setting up an array of breakpoints
before converting his sixth to go up 4-2 and take the opener,
but his unforced error count kept piling up in the second as
Sandgren, a quarter-finalist at the 2018 Australian Open, drew
Things got more messy for the Swiss in the third when he was
broken early and then warned for obscene language, something
that happens rarely to Federer on court.
Federer got involved in an argument with Serbian chair umpire
Marijana Veljovic before taking a lengthy medical timeout that
he later said was for a problem with his groin.
Sandgren had to wait almost nine minutes on court before Federer
returned to resume the match but the American broke his opponent
again, converting his sixth setpoint to nose ahead.
Sandgren, whose run to the last eight in 2018 was shrouded in
controversy because of links to far-right activists on his
social media account, hit 27 aces in the match and continued to
put Federer's serve under pressure.
With his back to the wall, Federer shifted up a gear to save
three matchpoints on serve, with the Rod Laver Arena Crowd
gasping every time he survived.
He saved four more during the tiebreak to force a decider, amid
delirium in the stadium.
Federer rode the momentum in the final set, breaking Sandgren's
serve in the sixth game before converting his first matchpoint
to set up a meeting against either Milos Raonic or Novak
Djokovic for a place in Sunday's final.
"Draws are not getting easier. With these lucky escapes, you
might play without expectations because you know you should be
skiing in Switzerland," he said.
"Lucky to be here, may as well make the most of it. I better
feel better than today otherwise I am really going skiing."
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Peter Rutherford and
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