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Did Federer Loss Ruin Sandgren’s Career?

Tennys Sandgren held seven match points on Roger Federer to advance to the semifinals of the 2020 Australian Open. The American failed to convert those match points and lost to Federer 63 26 26 76 (8) 63.

Sandgren was on a roll in 2020 and on the cusp of becoming an elite ATP player but the heartbreaking defeat to Federer has altered Sandgren’s evolution.

Since the loss, Sandgren has been an ordinary player – his match record for the rest of 2020 was 3-11. And this year in 2021 Sandgren is 7-15 in the ATP level. He has not been a factor in any prestigious tournaments since the loss to Federer.

Sandgren is 30 years old now. His most recent outing was a retirement loss in the first round of Cary Challenger. He may never recover from the loss, just one point away from a Grand Slam semifinal vs Novak Djokovic. But still, a Grand Slam semi is a Grand Slam semi, and anything can happen.

Pete Sampras once said it took him over a month to get over a Grand Slam final loss. So one would have to think Sandgren may still be feeling the pain and regret for having let Federer escape his stranglehold. The loss not only cost Sandgren mentally but also financially. Sandgren earned $525,00 for making the QF but had he beaten Federer to reach the semis, his AO check would have been for $1,040,000.

Blowing those match points cost Sandgren over half a million dollars.

Tennis can be a cruel sport.

If there’s another devastating match to compare to this one, maybe it’s the 1996 US Open round of 32 match of Michael Chang with 22 year old young American Vincent Spadea.

Spadea was ahead 46 75 62 and was just a couple of points from the upset victory but Chang escaped and won the last two sets 75 63. Pancho Segura once told Spadea that he never recovered from that loss to Chang.

Well, he did, sort of. Spadea won at ATP singles title in Scottsdale and scored wins vs Agassi, Sampras, Federer, Rafter, etc. But he never did major damage at a Grand Slam.

Sandgren still has time to steer his career back on course after what has been two difficult, disappointing years.

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  • Matty · September 23, 2021 at 2:48 pm

    He was always an average player. Stick around on the tour long enough and you’ll be unbeatable for one week or two. i.e. Jeff Terango, Francisco Gonzalez, Cerendola. It happens

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 23, 2021 at 7:40 pm

    Matty, I think Sandgren was better than your estimation. Won a title, two QF at AO, and match points from a semi. He has slayed some of the elites. Sandgren has an extra gear and extra level above the likes of Steve Johnson, Isner, Querrey, Sock, Fritz and many others. If you want to to talk about fluke weeks, I offer you Martin Verkerk, Brian Vahaly (SF at Indian Wells), Vladimir Voltchkov, Alexandra Stevenson.

  • Matty · September 23, 2021 at 8:24 pm

    Great comment, yes. I’ve been friendly with Tennys over the years – seen him in futures, challengers and ATP events. Agree that he gets up for the elites like Sasha, Stan, and Fed, but overall it was at best an 18 month run. Then he reverted back to Challenger Sandgren, the guy who loses first round in Cary. Sad…

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 23, 2021 at 8:41 pm

    Sandgren won today and is cruising in Columbus. Draw looks good for him to maybe take the title. I’ve seen plenty of Sandgren, he has an incredible level at times, great defense, great grinding. huge kick serve he can hit into the top of the back court fence. I actually saw his very first ATP main tour win in Washington DC at about 11 pm at night he won a three setter vs Ito or Sugita, first ATP main draw win, in 2018 or 17, then he beat Kyrgios next round, which I also saw. Kyrgios didn’t tank, he just was not ready for Sandgren’s level, he expected a routine match, he underestimated Sandgren, was getting whooped and then quit. He’s an up and down player, no coach right now, traveling with a family friend. Hoping to get back on track. Yoxoi has invested in him as being their man to promote the brand. He can still do damage, one hot streak can spark it at any time.



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