US Open 2018

He's no longer run of the Mill

Four years ago, John Millman was working for a mortgage brokerage firm to make ends meet after 12 months out with an injury. On Monday, the Australian beat 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in the fourth round of the US Open.
Four years ago, John Millman was working for a mortgage brokerage firm to make ends meet after 12 months out with an injury. On Monday, the Australian beat 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in the fourth round of the US Open.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

No. 55 Millman 'guilty' about stunning hero Federer, who says heat is a factor in his exit

NEW YORK • If you do not follow tennis, you may not know who John Millman is. You do now.

On Monday, the 29-year-old Australian shocked world No. 2 Roger Federer in a four-set thriller in the fourth round of the US Open.

Describing himself after the match as a "deer in the headlights" in the early exchanges, Millman fought back to post a memorable 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-3) victory as Federer slumped to his first defeat against a player outside the top 50 in 41 meetings in New York.

"I've got to control the controllable and the one thing I can control is the fight in me," he said court-side after the match.

Fight is something he has in spades. After having witnessed it at first hand under the lights in New York, a vanquished Federer said: "He reminds me of David Ferrer and those other guys that I admire a lot, when I see how they train, the passion they have for the game.

"He's got a great backhand, he will punish you every time for it."

The Swiss, who was sluggish in his earliest loss at the Grand Slam since 2013, also blamed the upset on the sweltering conditions that have forced organisers to enact an extreme heat policy and the decision to build a roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"I just struggled in the conditions. It's one of the first times it's happened to me. Was just one of those nights, where I guess I felt I couldn't get air," said the 20-time Grand Slam winner. "I do believe, since the roof is on, that there is no air circulation in the stadium... makes it a totally different US Open."

HE'S A FIGHTER

He reminds me of David Ferrer and those other guys that I admire a lot, when I see how they train, the passion they have for the game.

ROGER FEDERER, on how he lost to a worthy opponent in John Millman.

The 55th-ranked Millman is a story of commitment to a sport where success has not always come easily. His path to a first Grand Slam quarter-final appearance has been anything but typical.

Four years ago, he was working for a mortgage brokerage firm in Brisbane to make ends meet after missing 12 months on the ATP Tour because of a shoulder injury.

But to describe him as an unknown would be incorrect. He is now likely to jump beyond his highest ranking of 49th reached in July.

And if he beats his next opponent, former world No. 1 and Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic, tomorrow, he will not only usurp Nick Kyrgios as the top men's player in his country, but stand a great chance at becoming the first Australian man to win a Grand Slam event since Lleyton Hewitt at Wimbledon in 2002 .

Yet few would have expected this win over Federer after the Swiss maestro breezed past Kyrgios in the previous round. Millman, least of all.

"I'm probably in a little bit of disbelief," he told reporters sheepishly. "I have so much respect for Roger and everything he's done for the game.

"He's been a hero of mine and I felt a little bit guilty because today, he was definitely not at his best."

Djokovic, who has designs on a third US Open and 14th Grand Slam title, eased to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win over unseeded Joao Sousa of Portugal despite claiming that the heat "was the adversity today".

"He is another guy I've looked up to," Millman said. "The last time I played him, I got three games off him. I hope this time to get more."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2018, with the headline 'He's no longer run of the Mill'. Print Edition | Subscribe