Worsley at Aussie Open 2020: Roger Federer's miraculous comeback a triumph for sport

OPINION: Watching sport is such a voyeuristic exercise.

You get to see a human being exposed to their complete nakedness and pushed as far as they can go.

The torturous rawness of emotions from relief to anger, happiness to frustration and desperation, all in the pursuit of winning a tennis match at the Australian Open captures the imagination.

And while Roger Federer’s five-set victory over Tennys Sandgren may not have been the most beautiful, graceful tennis, it was the epitome of every human triumph.

Even if you didn’t like tennis or the particular players involved, it featured the full absurdity of sport, and just why we watch and live every shot from our lounge suite or from the stands.

How can a professional sportsman such as Sandgren find so many ways to secure defeat from the jaws of victory. And how can a veteran such as Federer at age 38 keep going and win against all odds?

And despite his reputation and his titles, Federer lost his cool, speaking to a linesperson in a “mix of languages”, although some swear words are actually universal.

Yet Sandgren remained in an eerie calm for most of the match, as the greatest opportunity of his career so far crumbled before him

That six-time champion Federer was able to hold strong and keep the ball in play for one more shot... and then another... and another to force his opponent to win the match was a testament to his guile, skill and spirit.

Tennys Sandgren returns the ball at the Australian Open
Tennys Sandgren returns the ball at the Australian Open. Photo credit: Photosport

Sandgren had seven match points and squandered them all under immense pressure from himself, the crowd and Federer too. The 3h 37m contest provided one of the best displays of grit and determination, as well as heartbreak for Sandgren.

From Federer’s disbelief at winning to Sandgren’s attempt to drown his sorrows on Twitter with: “What’s the rule here, folks - a double shot for each match point you didn’t convert?” 

At the end of the day, tennis - the sport, not the player - was the winner.

Sport can be both bland and bold at the same time, but one thing it was not in this case was boring. Federer’s defeat of Sandgren was a triumph in every aspect of the word.

How many other sportspeople can you think of who have come back from almost certain defeat to glory?

Dave Worsley is a Newshub sports reporter, covering his 22nd Australian Open.