Djokovic sets up Federer showdown with Raonic rout
MELBOURNE, January 28: Roger Federer pulled off one of the greatest escapes of his career Tuesday, saving seven match points to come from two sets down and beat Tennys Sandgren for a place in the Australian Open semi-finals.
In a drama-packed match, the normally ice-cool Swiss was slapped with a code warning for swearing and needed a rare medical timeout for a groin injury before winning 6-3, 2-6, 2-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-3.
“I don’t deserve this one, but I’m standing here and obviously very happy,” said Federer, 38, who became the oldest man in 43 years to make the last four at Melbourne Park after Ken Rosewall.
“I just said (to myself while losing), I believe in miracles,” he added.
“I got incredibly tonight, today — I don’t even know what time it is. I’m lucky to be here and might as well make the most of it (in the semis).”
The victory was his 102nd at Melbourne Park, surpassing his tally at Wimbledon to make the Australian Open his most successful Slam in terms of matches won.
In two decades of playing the Australian Open, he had never lost to a player ranked as low as Sandgren’s 100 since 54th-ranked Arnaud Clement beat him way back in 2000.
But the unheralded American was always going to be a danger to the 20-time Grand Slam winner, having already beaten eighth seed Matteo Berrettini and 12th seed Fabio Fognini.
And he gave the Swiss star a massive scare.
Both players fought off break points against their opening service games as they sized each other up.
But it was only a matter of time before Federer broke and it came in the sixth game as he began figuring out Sandgren’s game, forcing errors as he took the set.
But Sandgren wasn’t ready to surrender, breaking Federer for a 2-0 lead in the second when the world number three sent an overhead long.
The composed American broke again with Federer’s touch abandoning him, sending down 15 unforced errors.
Playing in the mid-afternoon sun, he continued to struggle in the third, broken in his opening service game with the crowd stunned into silence.
Federer was rattled. He worked three break points when 2-0 down and when Sandgren saved two of them, the Swiss was warned for an audible obscenity, reported by the line judge after he dropped an f-bomb.
Leander Paes bows out of Australian Open
Veteran Leander Paes’ last Australian Open outing came to an end after he and partner Jelena Ostapenko were knocked out of the mixed doubles competition, going down in straight sets to Jamie Murray and Bethanie Mattek-Sands here on Tuesday.
The 46-year-old Paes and Latvia’s Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, lost to the British-American pair 2-6 5-7 in a second round match that lasted one hour and seven minutes.
Paes had earlier announced that 2020 would be his final year on the Pro circuit.
Rohan Bopanna is the only Indian left in the fray now. The 39-year-old and Nadiia Kichenok of Ukraine will take on fifth seed Nikola Mektic and Barbora Krejcikova in the mixes doubles quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Djokovic beats Milos Raonic
Defending champion Novak Djokovic set up a semi-final showdown with ‘Big Three’ rival Roger Federer at the Australian Open on Tuesday with a thumping 6-4 6-3 7-6(1) victory over Canada’s hapless Milos Raonic.
The crowd will hope for a better show on Thursday, when second seed Djokovic renews his Grand Slam rivalry with Federer, six months after fighting off match points to beat the Swiss in Wimbledon’s longest ever final.
“I hope I get to at least one match point in a few days,” Djokovic, who hold a 26-23 edge over Federer, quipped on court after downing Raonic. (AFP/PTI)