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Federer waits until the midnight hour to win four-hour epic

Swiss superstar reels off six tie-break points in a row to book his spot in fourth round of Australian Open.

Image: FABRICE COFFRINI

ROGER FEDERER DEFIED age as well as John Millman to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open. Yet that’s only scratching the surface of this story. The 38-year-old took four hours and three minutes to get the job done, with the clock going past midnight when the final set was played.

Two years have passed since Federer won his last grand slam – his sixth Australian Open title. In the six subsequent grand slams he entered, he has gone beyond the quarter-final stage just once.

The only thing that prevents the sixth-time winner from yet another foray into the quarter-finals or beyond is a match against unseeded Hungarian Marton Fucsovics.

In a pulsating four-hour match that left centre court captivated, Federer reeled off six straight points in the 10-point final set tiebreaker to grab the victory just when Millman looked on the cusp of a famous victory.

Federer defeated Millman 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (10-8) in the first match on Rod Laver Arena decided by the ‘super-tiebreaker’ – introduced at the Australian Open last year.

It was revenge for the Swiss after Millman defeated him at the US Open 18 months ago, this wasn’t quite the sequel to match the original.

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In some ways, this contest, engrossing and entertaining as ever, was simply decided in the tense close moments of the second set. That was when Federer, at risk of having to overcome a two-set deficit, stepped up mightily in the tiebreaker to even the contest.

Then, after Federer had by far the better of the third set, Millman dug deep in the fourth set to even the contest and sent the match into a fifth set.

And after the deciding set was tight throughout, it went to the rare territory of the super tiebreaker and that was where Millman looked likely to grab another remarkable win over the Swiss champion.

He moved to a 8-4 advantage after consecutive passing shot winners and the match looked his. But Federer was not done and forced some errors from Millman’s racquet. Then Federer needed just one match point to close it out.

About the author:

Garry Doyle

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