MELBOURNE, Australia -- An hour after falling to Hyeon Chung in the Australian Open quarterfinals on Wednesday, Tennys Sandgren addressed the media with a prepared statement about the scrutiny some of his social media activity has recently received.
Sandgren read his statement quietly off his phone.
"You seek to put people in these little boxes so that you can order the world in your already assumed preconceived ideas," his statement read. "You strip away any individuality for the sake of demonizing by way of the collective.
"With a handful of follows and some likes on Twitter, my fate has been sealed in your minds. To write an edgy story, to create sensationalist coverage, there are a few lengths you wouldn't go to mark me as the man you desperately want me to be."
Ranked No. 97, Sandgren had become the Cinderella story of these Australian Open championships. He came into Melbourne with an 0-2 career record in Grand Slam play and had spent the majority of his time on tour playing in lower-level Challenger events.
On Monday, he upset world No. 5 Dominic Thiem in five sets, but the feel-good story quickly turned sour when he was asked about some of his Twitter posts, which appeared to link him to alt-right ideologies. Sandgren, 26, quickly dismissed any allegiance, telling the media that who he follows on Twitter doesn't matter and that the "information you see doesn't dictate what you think or believe."
Sandgren subsequently deleted years' worth of tweets for what he hoped would be a "clean start." When asked about his views Tuesday in an interview with ESPN, Sandgren said, "[It's] not really specific 'alt-right' content that I deem of value. I think that's very incorrect, and I don't find information like that to be of value or to hold on to any of those things."
On Wednesday, when pressed to respond to his opening statement, Sandgren appeared annoyed.
"This stopped being about tennis," he said. "I was fine talking about tennis. I'm fine talking about a lot of things. But, you know, I feel like this has gone very far away from the tennis."
Sandgren said he will continue to grow and become the person he wants to be, while also working hard to improve his tennis game.
"It's not easy to come off some big wins, biggest wins of my career, crazy stages, like quarterfinals of a Slam," Sandgren said. "That's crazy to me. And to deal with the stuff off the court as well."