Tennys Sandgren is not easily overawed, which is just as well, given he owns a name that invites disbelief and is going to play Roger Federer in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Tuesday.
The world No 100, who still lives in the Tennessee town of Gallatin – about 30 miles from Nashville – where he was born 28 years ago and mainly makes noise in the major championships because of his archly obvious moniker and occasional flashes of muscular brilliance, on Sunday earned the right to play the world No 3.
He thoroughly deserved his 7-6 (5), 7-5, 6-7 (2), 6-4 win over the erratic Italian, Fabio Fognini, on Melbourne Arena. This, though, is on another scale. If Sandgren – named Tennys after his Swedish great-grandfather – were somehow to fashion the upset of the tournament by beating an opponent who has won 20 majors and who, at 38, seems desperate for more, he would almost certainly play Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals two days later. Were Djokovic to succumb to Sandgren’s uncomplicated power game, his probable final on Sunday would be Rafael Nadal, chasing his 20th major. After that Sandgren would more than likely try to fly to the moon, unaided by a rocket.
He might make history but will probably not. It does not concern him. He has nothing to lose.
Federer, meanwhile, is still reaching high, although there were worrying moments in his 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win over Marton Fucsovics when it looked as if the wobble he survived in his five-set struggle against the Australian, John Millman, had not been properly cleansed.