After Missed Opportunity, Sandgren Goes Back To The Drawing Board
American shares thoughts after quarter-final exit
The World No. 100 earned three opportunities to close the match on Federer’s serve at 5-4 in the fourth set and four additional chances in the tie-break that followed. But the 20-time Grand Slam winner raised his level when it mattered most, turning the match around to improve to 15-0 in quarter-final encounters at Melbourne Park.
“Obviously, he played the [match points] well,” said Sandgren. “I could have played them better. I've run through them a bunch of times. He was aggressive on one, passive on a few, came in on one, could have put the volley in a different spot.
“He read it well, hit two good passes. Put me in an awkward spot on the last one I had. Missed the approach. He probably would have passed me anyway. It was in a bad spot. All credit to him for sure.”
Having taken the time to look back on his decision-making in those crucial moments, Sandgren shared what he would have done differently if given a second chance.
“Maybe [I should have gone] for a backhand cross-court full power,” said Sandgren. “I probably had eight or nine that I played pretty good, but maybe I could have opened it up a little bit more. I was hitting my backhand well the whole day. Maybe I could have done more with that.
“In hindsight, played the volley to the open court. But I also didn't want to see a classic Roger Federer running forehand passing shot. So, I thought I would play it strong cross and he hit a great pass.”
Sandgren was full of credit for Federer and his fighting qualities as the match appeared to be heading towards a conclusion in the fourth set. Federer also rallied from 4/8 down in a final-set tie-break to beat home favourite John Millman in the third round.
“Once he could see the finish line being a real thing, I thought his level picked up, as my level was maybe decreasing a little bit. I did think he picked his level up a little bit in the fifth set, which is to be expected,” said Sandgren.
“When you survive that many times, you can't give a good player, let alone maybe the best player ever, that many chances to come back. They're going to find their game and start playing well. That seemed to me what happened.”
After reaching his second Australian Open quarter-final in three years, Sandgren will rise in the FedEx ATP Rankings after earning 360 points. The 28-year-old can take confidence from victories against Marco Trungelliti, eighth seed Matteo Berrettini, Sam Querrey and 12 seed Fabio Fognini as he looks ahead to the rest of the 2020 ATP Tour season.
“I could just as easily be in the semi-finals right now, but I'm not,” said Sandgren. “Back to the drawing board. Keep working. Keep trying to improve. Maybe I'll get another look, another shot. Maybe I'll come through.”