Millman Shocks Federer
John Millman shocked the tennis world on Monday evening at the US Open, ousting five-time champion Roger Federer 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(7), 7-6(3) in the fourth round. The World No. 55 had never previously beaten an opponent inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings (0-10).
Five-time winner Federer had missed the quarter-finals in Flushing Meadows just once in his past 13 appearances, and he had never lost against an opponent outside the Top 50 at the event.
"I felt like a deer in the headlights to begin with; Roger had it on a string, he was manipulating me around the court, but I got out of a tough second set and really found my feet," Millman said on court after the match. "I started to be more aggressive and I started to serve well and capitalised a little bit on Roger having an off service day."
Federer later admitted that he struggled in the 83 per cent humidity. “I just thought it was very hot tonight. [It] was just one of those nights where I guess I felt I couldn't get air. There was no circulation at all. For some reason I just struggled in the conditions tonight. It's one of the first times it's happened to me.”
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The 29-year-old Aussie, who is projected to crack the Top 40 for the first time on 10 September regardless of his quarter-final result against two-time champion Novak Djokovic, made just 28 unforced errors to Federer’s 77, defeating the Swiss in three hours and 35 minutes. He also won an impressive 51 per cent (90/177) of the points he played from the baseline, while Federer, who came to the net 81 times, was victorious in just 40 per cent of points he contested from the baseline.
"I've got to control the controllables, I said that before I went out and played," Millman said. "The one thing I can control is the fight in me. I have always done that."
It's a tremendous result for a player who underwent groin surgery last February and had previously undergone two shoulder surgeries. Toward the end of 2017, the Aussie was concerned about staying healthy. And now, he is one of just eight players remaining in the season's final major. Before the tournament, Millman practised with Andy Murray, taking the court in Arthur Ashe Stadium for the first time.
"To be honest with you, coming into this tournament, my expectations were pretty low," Millman said after his third-round win. "So maybe the time I thought I was going to be playing on Ashe was that practice session I had with Andy.”
Millman is now 18-15 on the season, which includes a runner-up finish in his first ATP World Tour final at the Gazprom Hungarian Open (l. to Cecchinato) on 1 April. He was ranked as low as No. 235 in the ATP Rankings just 12 months ago.
Federer led 6-3, 5-4, 40/15 on his serve, but he was unable to convert two set points. The Aussie took advantage of a lackluster serving night by the Swiss, who appeared to struggle with the brutal humidity. The 37-year-old also had a set point in the third-set tie-break, but was unable to take advantage of a Millman second serve.
Federer broke in the fourth set in an effort to force a decider. But Millman got right back on serve when the No. 2 seed missed a forehand long. And in the tie-break, the Aussie took a 6/1 lead and he did not let the pressure of the moment get to him, converting his third match point.
The pair had only met once before, with the Swiss prevailing in three sets at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp in 2015 en route to the title. Millman will now face Djokovic, against whom he won just three games at the Fever-Tree Championships earlier this year.
Federer, who currently in second position in the ATP Race To London for a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 11-18 November, is now 36-6 on the season, which includes three titles.
Did You Know?
Federer had lost just once to a player ranked outside the Top 50 at a Grand Slam after winning the first set. That defeat came at the hands of Sergiy Stakhovsky at Wimbledon in 2013.