When Roger Federer earned a Major milestone and left Pete Sampras behind

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When Roger Federer earned a Major milestone and left Pete Sampras behind

The 20-time Major champion Roger Federer has played no less than 429 encounters at the highest level, a mind-blowing and challenging number even for his closest rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal! At the last year's Australian Open, Roger reached the semi-final at 38 years and five months, becoming the fourth-oldest Major semi-finalist in the Open era and competing in the last four for the 15th time, a record that will probably stand by his name for good.

The Swiss celebrated his 100th victory in Melbourne, becoming the only player with a "century" at two different Majors. Despite a groin injury, the veteran reached the 46th Major semi-final after two thrilling victories over John Millman and Tennys Sandgren, standing on the verge of defeat in both encounters before prevailing to advance into the last four.

After winning two titles in the previous three years in Melbourne, Federer kicked off the 2020 campaign with commanding wins over Steve Johnson and Filip Krajinovic.

Roger Federer scored the 30th five-setter victory at Majors in Melbourne last year.

The Swiss had to work much harder in the third round, facing the home star John Milliman and prevailing 10-8 in the deciding match tie break after being 8-4 down.

In the fourth round, Marton Fucsovics took the opening set against the legend before Roger shifted into a higher gear to claim the next three and find himself in the 15th Australian Open quarter-final. Facing Tennys Sandgren in a battle for the semi-final, Federer faced no less than seven match points in the fourth set before prevailing 6-3, 2-6, 2-6, 7-6, 6-3 in three hours and 31 minutes, repeating what he only did once in Cincinnati 2003!

Struggling with a groin injury, Federer looked lost and damned in the second and third sets, receiving a medical timeout and hoping for a miracle in the fourth. He certainly needed it after facing seven match points in the tenth game and the tie break, defending them all to steal the set and advancing with a strong performance in the decider.

It was the best way for Roger to celebrate the 30th five-setter Major victory, leaving Pete Sampras on 29. Roger's first five-setter triumph at Majors came at Roland Garros 2000, beating the compatriot Michel Kratochvil 8-6 in the decider for a notable start of his marathon clashes at the most significant tennis scene.

Two decades later, Federer was still capable of enduring thrilling encounters and edging his opponents in the crucial moments. The Swiss will try to add more wins like this to his tally when he returns in the second part of 2022, dealing with a knee injury and playing only 19 matches in the last two years.