UPDATE: Federer closes out Sandgren, 6-3, 2-6, 2-6, 7-6 (8), 6-3, saving seven match points along the way
In his third-round match against John Millman, Federer won six straight points when he was two points away from defeat.
Today, in his quarterfinal match against Sandgren, Federer won seven points when he was one point from defeat.
Somehow, the 38-year-old survived this match, and managed to surpass his earlier escape in incredulity.
"Gotta get lucky sometimes, I'll tell you that," Federer told Jim Courier after the match. "I think I got incredibly lucky today.
"I don't deserve this one, but I'm standing here, and I'm very, very happy."
Federer said his groin and leg ailed him, but he never thought of retiring. His body was "stiff and tight," but if Sandgren was to win, he wanted his opponent to finish him off properly.
"The best [part] of when it's a groin is that you go off the court, and no one knows what it is."
What's next for Federer? For one, he'll face Novak Djokovic or Milos Raonic on Thursday night.
"The draws don't get any tougher."
True, but as Federer said, he's still playing tennis in Australia—not that Tennys—rather than skiing in Switzerland.
WATCH: All seven match point saves (USA only)
More to come on this match from Joel Drucker, reporting in Melbourne.
UPDATE: Federer earns first break of fifth set for 4-2 lead
Sandgren had seven match points, and right now, you get the feeling that Federer will only need one to put this match away.
The American isn't playing poorly, from a physical standpoint, but the missed opportunities have to be living rent-free in his head.
UPDATE: Two simple Federer holds; one difficult Sandgren hold
Sandgren fought off two break points and a variety of audible mishaps, from the umpire's microphone to cell phones in the crowd, to hold from a 0-30 deficit.
Federer, meanwhile, looks as fresh as he's appeared all match.
UPDATE: Seven match points aren't enough for Sandgren, as Federer forces a fifth set
Federer began the tiebreak with a spry return, a forehand approach, and a missed volley. Still, the improved physical signs boded well. He looked like a different player, and when he won both subsequent serve points, the pressure was squarely on Sandgren.
Unreturned serve. Ace. Pressure back on Federer.
Federer won his next service point, leading to a changeover at 3-3—where Sandgren and a ball girl collided. Sandgren was heard telling the chair umpire that he did something to his calf.
That didn't appear to bode well, but Sandgren earned the first mini break—and then held two serve points to earn three more match points.
First match point (fourth overall): extended rally, with Federer slices. Sandgren backhand into net.
Second match point (fifth overall): Federer unreturned serve. First match point Sandgren didn't hit an error on.
Third match point (sixth overall): Sandgren served on a match point for the first time, and played it well. But he won a late volley exchange to augur an escape act, once again. But Sandgren earned another match point with an unreturned serve.
Fourth match point (seventh overall): after a long backhand-to-backhand exchange, Federer eventually gets another (un)timely error from Sandgren. 7-7.
Set point, Federer: After his second fastest serve of the day, Federer takes an 8-7 lead. Sandgren wipes away the set point with an ace.
Second set point, Federer: Federer gets to 9-8 after a furious forehand-to-forehand rally, and Sandgren blinks. On serve, Federer wins a point after a deep lob that Sangdren replies to with an error.
UPDATE: Sandgren saves a break point, holds serve for 6-5
That is all.
UPDATE: Federer saves three match points with three Sandgren errors
From 40-15, Federer drops two points, the last off a short backhand error. A woeful forehand into the net follows, giving Sandgren a match point.
On his first match point, Sandgren goes for an off-balance backhand, and puts it into the net from the baseline.
Federer answers by firing a poor forehand of his own into the net.
On Sandgren's second match point, after a bevy of Federer slice backhands, he hits a forehand wide.
Sandgren would not relent, firing a return winner on the very next point.
On Sandgren's third match point, he hits an error—his third in such situations—this one a forehand on the run, into the net.
A nervy Sandgren then hits a forehand into the net after a brief rally, giving Federer a game point. Federer holds with a serve down the T, followed by a forehand winner.
UPDATE: Federer holds on for 3-3; Sandgren holds court for 4-3
Sort of. At 30-30—effectively deuce—Federer and Sandgren met at net in an exchange of short strokes. Federer was in just the right position to knock off a Sandgren volley with one of his own. But a wide forehand that followed sent the game to deuce. A Federer firsst serve went unreturned before closing out the game.
The game featured more big hitting from Sandgren, including a down-the-line backhand with a short backswing but long on pace.
Shaking off the Federer holds, Sandgren helds at love for a 4-3 lead.
UPDATE: On serve at 3-2, Sandgren keeps rolling on serve
Five games, five holds. But while Federer is struggling to put Sandgren away with his serve, Sandgren is cruising through his service games. The American has four aces and has lost just three points on serve over in three games.
UPDATE: Sandgren takes a two-sets-to-one lead over Federer
On his sixth set point, Sandgren broke Federer for the fourth time—and it ended like many points have today: with a Federer error. The No. 3 seed has racked up 37 unforced errors, with his backhand looking particularly weary.
If you could remove the visuals from these two players—Sandgren's sleeveless shirt and funky shorts; Federer's carefully considered Uniqlo outfit—there would be no question who the superior player is, at least on this day, so far. Sandgren has used a variety of shots, including a leaping backhand, to great effect in pinning Federer deep in the court. He's also attacked Federer's serve at will; the Swiss has won just 71% of first-serve points.
Whether or not Federer is physically compromised—he was in his last Grand Slam loss, to Grigor Dimitrov at the same stage of the US Open—Sandgren has played a physically imposing brand of tennis that's inflicting lots of damage.
Whether Sandgren can be strong enough mentally to keep this up, and close it out, remains to be seen.
UPDATE: After splitting first two sets, Sandgren leads Federer in third set, 4-1
Every player in the Top 100 has Top 10-level strokes. So what separates the Top 10 from the Next 90? Consistency. Can you hit bullet forehands, sharp-angled backhands and game-changing serves long enough to stay on top? This question plays itself out over the course of an entire season, from which the rankings are determined—but also, over the course of a single match. No wonder, then, that the world's best tennis players tend to play even better in best-of-five-set matches, where consistency is the currency to success.
Even a player ranked No. 100 applies. Which brings us to Tennys Sandgren, he of the funny name and a game that's no joke. He wasn't born to be a baseball player, Roger Federer said in his post-match interview. And as Federer is finding out, he's quite the tennis player.
Sandgren began his quarterfinal with Federer as you might expect: on the receiving end. But the 28-year-old American has married power with consistency ever since the first set ended. Sporting a pair of newly toned arms, Sandgren has pummeled the ball off both wings, taking the second set, 6-2, and a 3-0 lead over Federer in the third.
The third set included a five-point run by Sandgren at 2-0, after falling behind 0-40. Federer's consistency has eluded him, and it resulted in yet another Sandgren surge—along with a warning for an audible obscenity, a rarity for the usually serene Swiss.
Federer also took a nearly 10-minute medical timeout after falling behind 3-0; there is no indication as to what the problem may be, but it's surely having some impact on Federer's game.
Not as much as Sandgren is, though.