In one of the biggest surprises of the Australian Open so far, aptly named Tennys Sandgren is through to the quarterfinals, defeating Fabio Fognini in four sets. The standard on Melbourne Arena was phenomenal. Both Sandgren and Fognini showcased their incredible power as well as defensive abilities. Finishing with an unbelievable stretching drop volley on match point followed by a bow, the American became one of the final eight men remaining. It may be an unexpected name in the final eight of the men’s tournament, but it is not the first time he has achieved this. Sandgren also reached the quarter-finals in Melbourne in 2018 before losing to South Korean Hyeon Chung. This time, his opponent is Roger Federer.
Tennys Sandgren defeats Fognini in four tight sets
Sandgren was able to gain a two sets to love lead, and with a break advantage in the third set the match looked to be over. Fognini has proved this week, specifically in his first round win against Reilly Opelka, that a two set deficit is not insurmountable. The Italian fought back in the third, eventually winning it in a tiebreak. The fourth set looked to be heading towards a tiebreak as well, with both players holding quite routinely for the majority of it. Sandgren had a different idea. Playing four sublime points in a row on what was to be Fognini’s final service game, Sandgren won the match, 7-6(5), 7-5, 6-7(2), 6-4. The American summed up the grueling contest in his post-match interview, saying “I was expecting a fight, and a fight we had.”
A second chance in Melbourne
The similarities between the run Sandgren made to the quarter-finals in 2018 and 2020 are staggering. In 2018, he defeated 9th seed Stan Wawrinka in the second round before battling past 5th seed Dominic Thiem in the fourth. This year, Sandgren beat 8th seed Matteo Berrettini in the second round and 12th seed Fabio Fognini two matches later. In 2018, however, he was defeated by Hyeon Chung in the quarterfinals, a loss that he does not want to replicate this year. The only issue with wanting to go one match further than he did two years ago is the opponent he will be up against, Roger Federer. With the Swiss maestro and Rod Laver Arena waiting, Sandgren’s next match will surely be the biggest of his career.
Sandgren’s magical run in 2018 was a breakthrough in his career, leading to further accomplishments such as his first ATP tournament win in Auckland in 2019. This year’s run in Melbourne will likely provide a similar boost moving forward for the American. Although it is likely not the name Federer was expecting to meet in the quarterfinals, it will still be a stern test. Due to the way Sandgren is playing, don’t be surprised if he rises to the occasion and gives Federer a run for his money on Tuesday.
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