The Nomadic Life With… John Millman
Professional tennis players are bona fide globetrotters, criss-crossing continents as they compete at tournaments in far-flung locations. But what is life like when you are travelling week-in and week-out, and then have to be ready to perform at the highest level?
In this new Q&A series, ATPTour.com chats with Aussie John Millman to get an inside look into The Nomadic Life of professional tennis players...
Travelling the world: Do you enjoy it or do you see it as just a ‘part of the job’ for tennis players?
I think initially when you’re young, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, you enjoy it a lot more. You’re probably taking to the new experiences a bit more. But when you get a little bit older… the travel side starts to wear off a little bit… especially during these times. Prior to COVID-19, you could kind of duck home for two or three weeks at a time every few months. But now obviously it’s harder to travel to Australia as we’ve seen.
What tournament city surprised you on the upside?
Budapest springs to mind. I was kind of a last-minute acceptance into the main draw there [during the 2018 edition]. I was in Barcelona thinking I was going to play qualies there, but at the last minute I got into Budapest so I decided I would fly there and play. I was blown away by that city.
Other than tennis gear, what items are on your must-pack list whenever you travel?
Always a good book. Normally I’ll hit up the local newsagent at the airport when they’re open. It can be fiction, non-fiction, anything. I like having a read. I think noise cancelling headphones are really important. That was a game changer for me a few years back, getting those. And then probably just your essentials: your laptop, your iPad so you can do all the streaming that you have these days... Being from Australia, most of the flights are long haulers so you get used to it.
What do you do to prepare yourself for a long-haul flight?
The biggest secret that I’ve found out, and the most expensive one, is to fly business. I have to be selective when I do that, but it’s amazing how much of an advantage that is. Something that I wish I would have done a little earlier is fly the same airline and get my status up, even when you’re flying economy. It makes a massive difference in those layovers to be able to go into a lounge and have a shower and refresh a little bit, stretch the legs out.
I also try to travel with my compression socks. They’re uncomfortable, but I get a little bit less swelling. And a good bit of sleep aids can help with travel, more so post-travel for being able to settle into a good sleeping rhythm. When you have to perform very quickly, that's massive.
Do you prefer to go to a city for the first time or do you prefer the familiarity of returning to a city you’ve already been to?
If I like the city, I prefer the familiarity. Unfortunately, these days you can’t do much tourism, so probably the smartest scheduling is going back to places that are a bit more familiar. Especially places where you know the conditions and you know what you’re getting into.
Favourite vacation spot for you?
Anywhere where there’s a good golf course. I love my golf. I’m probably a bit biased because I am a Queenslander and I love my home, I love Australia. North Stradbroke Island, which is very close to Brisbane, is an absolute gem. In my opinion, it should be a Natural Wonder of the World. It’s an absolute ripper.