MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Roger Federer needed some time to get going in the Australian Open’s fourth round, a match after a draining and difficult escape in which he was two points from defeat.
To be precise, he required a full set to get sorted.
After seeming sluggish while dropping the opener, Federer quickly righted himself and pushed through the next three sets without a hitch, reaching the 57th Grand Slam quarterfinal of his career by coming back to beat Marton Fucsovics 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 on Sunday.
â€œFinally found a way,â€ Federer said. â€œHad a good start to the second set and eventually it became easier.â€
When he takes on Tennys Sandgren, a 28-year-old from Tennessee, on Tuesday, it’ll be the 38-year-old Federer’s record 15th quarterfinal at the Australian Open. He has won the title at Melbourne Park a half-dozen times, part of his men’s-record 20 major championships.
Federer kidded around about Sandgren’s sport-appropriate first name; he is named after his great-grandfather.
â€œHe was not going to be a baseball player, thatâ€™s for sure,â€ Federer told the Rod Laver Arena crowd through a wide smile during his post-match interview.
Then, doubling down, Federer went on: â€œIâ€™ve never played against Tennys. Played a lot of tennis in my life, but never against Tennys.â€
The other quarterfinal on that side of the bracket is defending champion Novak Djokovic against No. 32 Milos Raonic of Canada.
The fourth-round matchups Monday: No. 1 Rafael Nadal vs. No. 23 Nick Kyrgios, No. 4 Daniil Medvedev vs. three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka, No. 5 Dominic Thiem vs. No. 10 Gael Monfils, and No. 7 Alexander Zverev vs. No. 17 Andrey Rublev.
Federer’s slow start against Fucsovics might have been a result of all of the energy he expended while getting past John Millman in a fifth-set super tiebreaker on Friday. That match lasted more than four hours.
â€œThe morning after … and this morning, (I was) lying in bed for an hour,â€ Federer said, â€œand I was like, â€˜When are we going to stand up?â€™ … I’m sure I’m going to feel better every day that goes by.â€
Millman was two points from victory at 8-4 in the tiebreaker, before Federer reeled off the last six consecutive points.
â€œGuy gave me a beatdown from the baseline,â€ Federer said about Australia’s Millman, â€œso maybe it took some of my confidence away.â€
Things never got quite so dire against Fucsovics, a 27-year-old from Hungary who is ranked 67th and was seeking his first major quarterfinal appearance.
After failing to accumulate a single break point in the first set, Federer won seven of Fucsovics’ service games the rest of the way.
He ended up with a 44-15 edge in winners on an evening with the temperature in the mid-60s Fahrenheit (below 20 Celsius).
â€œFrosty,â€ Federer joked. â€œI mean, it’s not that cold, after all. It’s fresh. It’s true, for Australia this time of year, we know it can be very different.â€
Federer has yet to face a seeded player in the tournament and that won’t change against Sandgren, who is ranked 100th but eliminated No. 12 Fabio Fognini in four sets.
The lowest-ranked player that has ever defeated Federer in his 21 Australian Open appearances was No. 54 Arnaud Clement in 2000.
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