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Millman advances to Round 3 while Gavrilova falls in longest match in US Open history

1 September 2017

TENNIS: Australian tennis battler John Millman has continued his blazing US Open run to charge into the third round and earn himself the opportunity of a lifetime, while Daria Gavrilova fell in the longest women's match in US Open history to dangerous American Shelby Rogers.

Australia’s last man standing backed up his upset defeat of Nick Kyrgios with a 6-1 7-6(1) 6-1 dismissal of Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri to make the last 32 in New York for the first time.

Millman next plays either German Philipp Kohlschreiber or Colombian Santiago Giraldo – both unseeded – for a $US144,000 ($A181,080) pay day and coveted spot in the second week of the season’s final Grand Slam event.

Contesting the Open on an injury-protected ranking, Millman’s progression is a huge result for the Queenslander in his latest comeback from surgery.

The 28-year-old, who has endured two shoulder reconstructions, a groin operation and countless other injuries in a career constantly stalled, arrived as the No.235 in the world.

He is now projected to soar at least 60 spots up the rankings, as well as earn a cheque for $US144,000 – more than doubling his season earnings – or possibly more.

Attempting to become the lowest-ranked player since 1985 to make the last 16 in New York, Millman showed no physical weakness from his four-set win over Kyrgios.

He struck 27 winners and broke Jaziri seven times in a victory that took exactly two hours.

“I knew that I would be playing in less than 24 hours time and that is a tough back up, especially with my body the way it is. It was unchartered waters for me,” Millman said.

“I haven’t really done the best-of-five back-up in less than 24 hours, so I was probably slightly apprehensive yesterday as to how my body would pull up.

“I am extremely happy with the level I am at and how I am hitting the ball. I am starting to play the big points better, which is really important when you are coming back from injury.

“Because when you have lacked that match experience, it is really difficult to be super clinical.”.

In the women's singles, Daria Gavrilova suffered US Open heartbreak, losing the longest women’s match in history at Flushing Meadows, a three-hour, 33-minute epic battle.

The 25th seed fought off four match points before succumbing 7-6(6) 4-6 7-6(5) to big-hitting American Shelby Rogers in their gruelling second-round contest.

Gavrilova showcased her signature fighting spirit in a high-quality and rollercoaster encounter featuring 11 service breaks, 76 winners, 111 unforced errors, a 90-minute deciding set and a warm embrace between the two exhausted combatants at the net.

“It was always going to be me. I was always going to be in the records for the longest match somewhere, so I’m not surprised,” the gritty baseliner said.

“It feels like I’ve played for three-and-a-half hours for nothing. I don’t know what my emotions are right now. I’m pretty disappointed.”

Riding high after claiming her maiden WTA Tour title in New Haven on Sunday, Gavrilova had been enjoying a six-match winning streak heading into the clash.

But it was clear from the outset she’d have her hands full against the 2016 French Open quarterfinalist.

Three times Gavrilova fought back from a break down to force the first-set tiebreaker. She successfully challenged a line call to save one set point but eventually relented to Rogers’ unyielding power play to drop the opening set after 68 minutes.

Australia’s 25th seed again had to come from behind in the second set, going down an early break to trail 2-0 before levelling up to stay in the contest.

On the brink of defeat, Gavrilova saved break point with a brave second-serve ace down the middle to avoid going down 5-3 and giving Rogers the chance to serve out the match.

Perhaps rattled, the American double-faulted and then pulled a backhand wide to instead gift Gavrilova the chance to close out the set, which she calmly did to tie the match up.

Gavrilova led 4-2 in the decider and had two break-point chances to go up 5-2.

Alas, in a big turning point, she couldn’t convert and the 2010 US Open junior champion needed to courageously battle back from love-40 down serving at 4-5 to stay alive.

Gavrilova staved off one more match point in the topsy-turvy tiebreaker before finally submitting.

The defeat leaves Ash Barty as Australia’s last hope in the women’s singles event in New York.


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