Tennis: Sandgren downs Thiem to keep Melbourne dream alive
January 22, 2018 | 3:33 PM
by Reuters
Tennys Sandgren of the U.S. takes a photo with fans after defeating Austria's Dominic Thiem in Melbourne on Monday. Photo - Reuters

Melbourne: American Tennys Sandgren's dream debut at the Australian Open continued on Monday as the rank outsider upset fifth seed Dominic Thiem 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (7), 6-3 to reach an improbable quarterfinal.

The world No. 97 had failed to win a match in his two previous main draw appearances at Grand Slams or even string together more than two wins at Tour-level before Melbourne Park.

But the 26-year-old's triumph at a heaving Hisense Arena made him only the second debutant to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals in 20 years.

He came within an inch of victory during the frenetic fourth set tiebreak, but Thiem saved the match point with a blistering backhand down the line.

Unbowed, Sandgren pounced in the sixth game of the final set to grab a break point when Thiem missed a string of first serves and held firm until the Austrian came forward to bash a forehand into the net.

Sandgren served magnificently to march to the brink of victory and sealed the match in style with a thumping forehand winner from the baseline.

The American threw down his racket and raised his arms aloft as the terraces roared in disbelief.

"I knew I had to take my chances," he said on-court.

"I knew I had to come out, play aggressively and take my chances and serve well."

Sandgren will face either 14th seed Novak Djokovic or South Korea's young gun Chung Hyeon for a place in the semifinals.

His run to the last eight has left a string of higher-ranked casualties in his wake, including triple Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, but it also took a toll on his South Africa-born mother watching the broadcast at home in Tennessee.

She fell against a pool table and hurt herself in the excitement of supporting him during an earlier match at Melbourne Park and has been laid up in bed since.

"She ended up going to the hospital," Sandgren told ESPN.

"Turns out it was a cracked rib and she's been resting, glad she's on the mend."

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