Roger Federer produced the great escape in his Australian Open quarter final against American, Tennys Sandgren, saving seven match points in the five-set victory. Can he ride on that ride on that good fortune and go on to win the tournament?
If Federer wins the Australian Open from here, it would be the first time he had won a major after saving match points along the way.
23 men have managed that feat in the history of the sport, 13 of whom have done it in the Open Era. However, no man has saved seven match points in one particular match on his way to winning a Grand Slam title. The highest number of match points saved is six, by Henri Cochet, against Jean Barotra in the 1927 Wimbledon final. The Open Era record stands at five, by Manuel Orantes against Guillermo Vilas in the semi-finals of the 1975 US Open.
We now look at the men who have won Grand Slams after saving match points in the Open Era.
1975 | Australian Open SF: John Newcombe bt. Tony Roche 6–4, 4–6, 6–4, 2–6, 11–9
John Newcombe won his seventh and final Grand Slam title at the 1975 Australian Open, but not before saving a match point in a dramatic five-set victory over Tony Roche in the semi-finals.
Newcombe fended off three match points as he took down Roche 6-4 4-6 6-4 2-6 11-9. He then proceeded to defeat top seed and defending champion, Jimmy Connors in the final, becoming the first man in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam title after saving match point during the tournament.
1975 | US Open SF: Manuel Orantes bt. Guillermo Vilas 4–6, 1–6, 6–2, 7–5, 6–4
Manuel Orantes pulled off an epic comeback against Guillermo Vilas in the 1975 US Open semi-finals, saving five match points in a stunning 4-6 1-6 6-2 7-5 6-4 victory over the Argentine.
Orantes trailed by two sets to love, and then 5-0 in the fourth set, but he produced a miraculous fightback to take the win and move into his third major final. Less than 24 hours later, the Spaniard outclassed defending champion, Jimmy Connors 6-4 6-3 6-3 to claim his first and only major title.
1976 | French Open R1: Adriano Panatta bt. Pavel Hut’ka 2–6, 6–2, 6–2, 0–6, 12–10
Adriano Panatta holds the distinction of being the only player to beat the legendary Bjorn Borg at the French Open. He did it not just once, but twice. One of those victories was in 1976, when he defeated Borg in the quarter finals.
Panatta went on to win the title- his solitary major title- beating Harold Solomon in the final- but his story might have been very different had he not saved a match point in a 2-6 6-2 6-2 0-6 12-10 victory over Czech, Pavel Hut’ka in the first round.
1982 | Australian Open SF: John Kriek bt. Paul McNamee 7–6, 7–6, 4–6, 3–6, 7–5
John Kriek won back-to-back Australian Open titles in 1981 and 1982, the latter coming after he had saved a match point in a five-set semi-final victory over Paul McNamee.
Kriek took out McNamee 7-6 7-6 4-6 3-6 7-5 in the last four, before going on to beat Steve Denton 6-3 6-3 6-2 in the final.
1985 | Australian Open R16: Stefan Edberg bt. Willy Masur 6–7, 2–6, 7–6, 6–4, 6–2
Stefan Edberg won the first of his seven Grand Slam titles at the 1985 Australian Open, beating third seed, Matts Wilander 6-4 6-3 6-3 in the final.
He encountered tougher challenges en route the final, none more so that in his fourth round victory over Wally Masur. Edberg fought back from two sets down, and saved two match points before coming through 6-7 2-6 7-6 7-6 7-6.
1989 | US Open R2: Boris Becker bt. Derrick Rostagno 7–6, 5–7, 5–7, 6–4, 7–6
Boris Becker’s 1989 US Open triumph included a come-from-behind victory over American, Derrick Rostagno in the second round. The German battled back from two sets down, saving two match points before taking out Rostagno 1-6 6-7 6-3 7-6 6-3.
Becker went on to claim his first and only US Open title, scoring a four-set victory over Ivan Lendl in the final.
1996 | US Open QF: Pete Sampras bt. Alex Corretja 7–6, 5–7, 5–7, 6–4, 7–6
In one of the most dramatic matches of his career, Pete Sampras battled all sorts of obstacles to take down Alex Corretja in the quarter finals of the 1996 US Open. The great American was sick, dehydrated, and even vomited at the back of the court in the final set- receiving a time violation for his troubles- but he somehow dug out a win, saving one match point in a 7-6 5-7 5-7 6-4 7-6 victory over the battling Spaniard.
Somehow, Sampras recovered from his physical problems to take down Goran Ivanisevic and Michael Chang in subsequent rounds to win his fourth US Open title.
2001 | French Open R16: Gustavo Kuerten bt. Michael Russel 3–6, 4–6, 7–6, 6–3, 6–1
Clay-court great Gustavo Kuerten was expected to cruise past American Roland Garros debutant, Michael Russel in the fourth round of the 2001 French Open, but the Brazilian slipped into big trouble when he dropped the first two sets against the underdog. Prior to this event, Russel had never gone beyond the first round of a major, but the American served for a monumental upset at 5-3 in the third set and got to match point. Kuerten survived with a forehand winner, before escaping with a 3-6 4-6 7-6 6-3 6-1 victory. After his fourth-round win, the two-time French Open champion carved a heart in the red clay with his racket, kneeled inside it and blew kisses to the crowd.
The top seed went on to claim his third French Open title, beating Spaniards, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Alex Corretja in his subsequent matches.
2003 | US Open SF: Andy Roddick bt. David Nalbandian 6–7, 3–6, 7–6, 6–1, 6–3
Competing in his first Grand Slam semi-final, Andy Roddick stared down the barrel of elimination when he trailed David Nalbandian by two sets to love and 5-6 in the third set tie break, but the American powered down a big first serve to erase the match point, setting the stage for a supreme fight back.
Energized by the New York crowd, Roddick powered through the rest of the match, winning 6-7 3-6 7-6 6-1 6-3 to reach his maiden Grand Slam final. Roddick went on to defeat Juan Carlos Ferrero in the title match to claim his solitary major title.
2004 French Open Final: Gaston Gaudio bt. Guillermo Coria 0–6, 3–6, 6–4, 6–1, 8–6
44th ranked Gaston Gaudio was a heavy underdog going into the 2004 French Open final against Guillermo Coria and the less fancied Argentine looked out of his depth in the early half of the title match as Coria built a two-set lead and marched towards the title. However, the favourite dramatically lost his way, and Gaudio took advantage, evening the match at two-set all. Coric regrouped in the fifth, held a 4-2 lead, served for the match twice, and had two match points, but he still could not cross the line. Gaudio recovered from that deficit to emerge as one of the unlikeliest Grand Slam champions in the history of the sport.
2005 Australian Open SF: Marat Safin bt. Roger Federer 5–7, 6–4, 5–7, 7–6, 9–7
Right at the heart of the Roger Federer dynasty in the mid-2000s, Russian enigma, Marat Safin created a stunning upset at the 2005 Australian Open, pulling off a sensational five-set win over the great Swiss to advance to his third final in Melbourne.
Federer held a match point at 6-5 in the fourth set tie break, but Safin pulled off a terrific lob, drawing an error from Federer’s tweener attempt. Safin won that tie break, and then opened up a 5-2 lead in the final set, but Federer fought back to even the set in a dramatic finale. Federer saved six match points towards the end of the match, but Safin would not be denied, converting his seventh match point to close out an epic 5-7 6-4 5-7 7-6 9-7 victory after almost four and a half hours.
The Russian claimed his second major title with victory over Lleyton Hewitt in the final.
2011 | US Open SF: Novak Djokovic bt. Roger Federer 6–7, 4–6, 6–3, 6–2, 7–5
Novak Djokovic makes his first appearance on this list following his heroics at the 2011 US Open, when the Serbian fought back from two-sets down, saving two match points to pull off a superb victory over Roger Federer.
Djokovic had done well to cancel Federer’s two-set lead, but the Swiss regained the initiative in the fifth set and looked home and dry when he held two match points serving at 5-3 40-15. However, Djokovic produced an incredible forehand return winner to wipe off the first match point, and a net cord helped him out in the second. Federer surrendered the game with a double fault, and would not win another game after that.
Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in the final to win his first US Open title, his fourth overall, and third in a sensational 2011.
2016 | US Open R3: Stan Wawrinka bt. Daniel Evans 4–6, 6–3, 6–7 7–6 6–2
Stan Wawrinka’s 2016 US Open success included a narrow escape against Dan Evans in the third round, when the Swiss saved a match point before pulling off a five-set win.
Evans held match point at 6-5 in the fourth set tie break, but Wawrinka survived before going on to record a 4-6 6-3 6-7 7-6 6-2 victory. The Swiss strung together four more wins, beating Novak Djokovic in the final to claim his third Grand Slam title.
2019 | Wimbledon Final: Novak Djokovic bt. Roger Federer 7–6 1–6, 7–6 4–6, 13–12
Novak Djokovic inflicted a heart-wrenching defeat on Roger Federer at the 2011 US Open, and the Serbian was again up to those old tricks eight years later, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat at the 2019 Wimbledon final.
An epic see-saw contest fluctuated for over four hours, but Federer saw the finish line deep into the fifth set, when he served at 8-7 lead 40-15. Just like New York in 2011, Federer couldn’t finish off the Serbian, who saved both match points before completing a 7-6 1-6 7-6 4-6 13-12 victory.
Federer has been on the wrong of this list a few times- is this the year when things work out in the great Swiss’ favour?