Millman stuns Federer to reach quarterfinals at US Open
4 September 2018
TENNIS: Rio Olympian John Millman staged an incredible comeback to upset world No.2 Roger Federer, for a place in his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the US Open.
The 3-6 7-5 7-6(7) 7-6(3) victory sends the Queenslander through to his first Grand Slam quarterfinal, where he will face Novak Djokovic, who on Monday defeated Joao Sousa in straight sets.
The win over Federer is the Aussie's first over a top-10 opponent in 11 attempts and is expected to push him to a career-high ranking of No.37.
It looked unlikely when he trailed 6-3, 5-4, 40-15, yet Federer was unable to convert those set points and let Millman back into the match.
“I felt like a bit of a deer in headlights to begin with, to be honest with you. The feet weren’t moving, Roger had it on a string, he was manipulating me around the court,” Millman said.
“But I got out of a tough second set and really found my feet and started to be a little bit more aggressive.
“I’m probably in a bit of disbelief. I have so much respect for Roger and everything he’s done for the game, he’s been a hero of mine.
“Today he was definitely not at his best, but you know, I’ll take it.”
Indeed, Federer’s stats showed startlingly high numbers of double faults (10) and unforced errors (76).
Despite initially looking the far sharper player, he retreated and allowed Millman to make the match a brutally physical contest.
Millman played Federer similarly in their only previous meeting three years ago in Brisbane, fighting tigerishly before falling in three sets.
Federer, a five-time champion at Flushing Meadows, tried to keep points short with frequent ventures to the net, yet finished the match with a 62 per cent success rate (50/81) in the forecourt.
“I think I started to serve really well, and probably capitalised a little bit on Roger having an off-service day,” Millman said.
“I’ve got to control the controllables and I said that before I went out and played. The one thing I can control is the fight in me.
“I’ve always done that throughout my career; it hasn’t been too easy, but I’ve always brought the fight out and that’s what it’s about, when I’m kind of revving myself up.”
That fight was demonstrated in an epic second game of the second set, which extended 14 minutes during which Millman held seven break points and although he didn’t convert any of them and Federer eventually held for 1-1, Millman sent a powerful message with his grinding style.
In the third set, Federer held a set point in the tiebreak but Millman escaped and the Australian recovered from 4-2 down in the fourth set to ensure another tiebreak would be required.
After winning the first point, Federer’s game completely unravelled. Forehand errors, backhand errors and double faults saw Millman barge ahead 6-1.
Three points later, the Aussie has sealed a famous victory and booked a date with Djokovic.
“Last time I played him I got three games at Queen’s,” said Millman, referring to his 6-2 6-1 loss to the Serbian in June.
“Let’s hope a few more (game this time), I’m playing some good tennis right now," Millman said.
“Novak’s an incredible player, he’s playing such good tennis right now, off Wimbledon and winning Cincinnati also. He moves incredibly well. He’s another guy that I’ve looked up to, with his game style and the way he goes about it.”
The elated Aussie finished, “It’s one o’clock now – probably should try to get a recovery.”