MELBOURNE: Swiss great Roger Federer said “I believe in miracles” after he saved seven match points in a five-set nail-biter against 100th-ranked Tennys Sandgren to go into an Australian Open semifinal with Novak Djokovic.
The six-time champion, struggling physically, saved three match points at 4-5 in the fourth set and four more in the tie-breaker to scrape through 6-3, 2-6, 2-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-3.
Federer, 38, now goes into an unmissable semifinal with Djokovic, who blunted Milos Raonic’s razor serve to win 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (1) and move two wins from an eighth Melbourne title.
Djokovic, despite trouble with his contact lenses, ended Raonic’s run of 63 straight games in the tournament without a break of serve and moves smoothly into the semis for the loss of just one set so far.
He paid tribute to the great escape by Federer, ahead of a semi-final that reprises his epic win over the Swiss in last year’s Wimbledon decider.
“What he did today was really amazing, to come back and save seven match points at his age,” Djokovic said.
“He’s still playing such a great tennis and proving that he deserves to be up there. He’s a great fighter. Obviously I have lots of respect for him.”
Federer’s match was incident-packed and he received a rare warning for an audible obscenity before going off-court for treatment on a groin injury.
Still hampered by the injury, he somehow forced a fifth set and began to regain control against the big-serving American.
Sandgren, achingly close to becoming the lowest-ranked player to beat Federer at the Australian Open, can count himself unlucky especially after a ball girl accidentally collided with him during the pivotal tiebreaker, which he lost.
Zverev sweeps past Wawrinka
German young gun Alexander Zverev stormed into his first Grand Slam semi-final on Wednesday, rallying from a set down to shatter the dreams of veteran Stan Wawrinka.
The seventh seed was thumped in the first set but recovered to grind down the 2014 champion 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in hot sun on Rod Laver Arena.
He will face either world number one Rafael Nadal or Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem in the last four, with a final beckoning against Djokovic or Federer.
Muguruza enters last four
Former world number one Garbine Muguruza was thrashed 6-0 in her first set and could barely train because of a viral illness. Now she’s in the semi-finals for the first time.
The 26-year-old Spaniard plays Simona Halep in the last four in Melbourne on Thursday, just two victories away from her third Grand Slam title.
It is all a far cry from the first round when Muguruza — unseeded at a Grand Slam for the first time since 2014 — folded 0-6 in the first set to American qualifier Shelby Rogers.
Muguruza, now 32 in the world after a slump last year, roared back 6-1, 6-0 in the next two sets to beat Rogers.