Slow Start, Fast Finish For Federer
Swiss to face Sandgren in quarter-finals
Two days after surviving a final-set match tie-break against John Millman, the six-time champion broke serve on seven occasions to move clear of 14-time quarter-finalist John Newcombe. Federer has now reached the last eight at 57 Grand Slam events.
“It was a tough start, I thought Marton played clean,” said Federer. “I guess it was the rest of the Millman match, that guy gave me a beatdown from the baseline, so maybe it took my confidence away a little bit and I think it just took some time."
It is the second time in three years that Federer has beaten Fucsovics in the fourth round in Melbourne, having also ended the Hungarian’s run in 2018. With his two-hour, 11-minute victory, Federer improves to 3-0 in his ATP Head2Head series against the 27-year-old.
“The morning after John’s match and this morning, I lay in bed for like an hour and I was like, ‘When are we going to stand up?’… I’m good. I was able to recover and play a good match, so I am sure I am going to feel better with every day that goes by after that match.”
With a semi-final spot on the line, Federer will face two-time Australian Open quarter-finalist Tennys Sandgren for the first time. Sandgren battled past 12th seed Fabio Fognini 7-6(5), 7-5, 6-7(2), 6-4 in three hours and 27 minutes.
“He was not going to be a baseball player, that’s for sure, with that name. It’s unreal actually,” joked Federer in his on-court interview with John McEnroe. “I am looking forward to playing against him. I have never played against Tennys. I have played a lot of tennis in my life, but never against Tennys.”
Fucsovics made the quicker start under the lights, claiming the opening break of the match at 3-3. Three errors from Federer handed the Hungarian triple break point, with Fucsovics ripping a forehand up the line to convert his third opportunity. The 6’2” right-hander took the opening set with a comfortable service hold, as Federer missed a cross-court forehand return.
An emphatic reaction followed from Federer, who held serve to love before striking winners up the line off both wings to break for a 2-0 lead. Federer soon clinched a second service break, as the forehand winners continued to flow, and he levelled the match with a swinging serve into Fucsovics’ forehand.
Federer took the momentum into a crucial third set, landing a huge backhand down the line to win the opening point. The Swiss mixed the pace well and showed great touch en route to a 4-0 lead, as Fucsovics struggled to find a way past the 38-year-old. Despite dropping serve in the sixth game, the six-time champion Federer moved one set away from the quarter-finals with a short backhand volley.
”Things went very quick. I think it's good for me to know that I can put streaks like this together,” said Federer. “I think in any tournament I played very well, I had those streaks happening at some point.”
For the third straight set, Federer earned an immediate service break. The World No. 3 attacked his opponent’s forehand, extracting multiple errors as he closed in on the last eight. Federer booked his meeting against Sandgren with a powerful serve into Fucsovics’ forehand.
“I was looking to mix it up a little bit more. It gets really slow in the night time, especially when it is cool like this, so I just had to figure it out and I finally found a way," said Federer. "I had a good start to the second set and from then on, things got a little bit easier.”
Fucsovics was aiming to become the first Hungarian player to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals. The World No. 67 upset 13th seed Denis Shapovalov in the first round, then earned straight-sets wins against Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner and American Tommy Paul.
“He really played a great tournament,” said Federer. “He beat three young guys, [got] through a tough section to make it to the fourth round.
“I was surprised also, like Sandgren, that he's not ranked higher. I think a lot of Marton. I think through this result, it's going to give him a lot of confidence moving forward, and we'll see him back in the Top 50 very, very soon.”