Federer: 'For Most Of The Time, I Thought That Was It'
Swiss superstar set to face Djokovic or Raonic on Thursday
The six-time former champion thought his time was up at Melbourne Park, when American Tennys Sandgren held seven match points in the fourth set, but the Swiss held on for a 6-3, 2-6, 2-6, 7-6(8), 6-3 win over three hours and 37 minutes.
“For most of the time there, I thought that was it,” said Federer. “Of course, there's little sparkles where maybe not, then you're like, no, it is over. Only maybe when I won that fourth set did I really think that maybe this whole thing could turn around.
“Honestly, when they told me seven [match points], I was like, ‘What? I thought it was three.’ It's such a blur at some point.”
Federer saved three match points when serving at 4-5 in the fourth set, then recovered from 3/6 and 6/7 in the tie-break. He’d also previously saved seven match points to beat Australia’s Scott Draper in August 2003 in the Western & Southern Open first round in Cincinnati.
“You go through a lot of different moments,” admitted Federer, who left the court for a medical time out due to a groin strain at 0-3 in the third set. “I figured the way I came back from the injury time-out, still being a little bit worried how things are, that didn't help. You hope sometimes you can solve things with a medical timeout, but that was not really the case.
“That third set was halfway gone anyhow, so it was just a matter of coming to terms with what do I have, what don't I have in my game. I figured in the fourth set, somehow things could go quickly or maybe I'll hang around for a bit, [or] eventually he'll get the break, because he was playing very well.”
Federer hopes his groin went tight through spending 12 hours and 44 minutes on court in five matches, but he’ll find out the full extent of the problem on Wednesday. “I started to feel it about midway through the second set,” he said.
“I can get through a match like this, through a match like [John] Millman, yes, you do believe. I only believe it over once it's over. I shake the hand of the opponent, that it's over, that it's fine.”
Federer will next play second seed and seven-time champion Novak Djokovic in their semi-final on Thursday.
“This [Grand Slam championship has] definitely been tough in many different ways. Then again, I didn't feel like I wasted too much emotional energy out there today because I came to terms quickly that things weren't exactly the way I wanted them to be. Instead of dwelling over them, I felt like I'll just play with it, see what can be done, see if he can put me away or not.
“When I got to the fifth set, I was like, ‘Oh, it's already fifth set’. I don't feel physically exhausted like against Millman. I recovered very well from that match [in the third round]. I'm also hopeful because I feel like I didn't get spent completely today. I'm hopeful that I can recover actually.”