Roger Federer produced a Houdini act after recovering from injury and saving seven match points against Tennys Sandgren to keep his hopes of landing a seventh Australian Open title alive.
Federer, who has never retired in 1,511 previous tennis matches, appeared to be heading towards defeat against Sandgren after picking up a groin injury. But he conjured up a great escape to turn the match around and win 6-3 2-6 2-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3.
Federer said: “Got to get lucky sometimes I tell you that. Those seven match points, you’re not in control. I was just hoping he was not going to smash the winner, and if he missed one or two, who knows what he is thinking about.
“I got very lucky. As the match went on I started to feel better again and the pressure eased off. I don’t deserve this one but I’m standing here and I’m very very happy.”
The 20-time Grand Slam champion took an off-court medical time-out early in the third set and was clearly physically compromised with a groin problem but somehow hung on during the fourth.
When he returned both his service speed and movement were down and despite the Swiss struggling on his forehand side he dug deep to save an incredible seven match points in the fourth set and send an already dramatic clash into a decider on Rod Laver Arena.