Roger Federer has been among the players to beat at Majors ever since that thrilling win over the Wimbledon king Pete Sampras in 2001. The 20-time Major champion holds many records at the most prominent events of our sport, with the most recent one coming on Friday when he defeated John Millman for the 100th victory at the Australian Open, becoming the first player in history to achieve that.
To beat Federer in the best-of-five clash at Majors, the one has to produce incredible tennis, stamina and focus, with only eight competitors who have earned at least two Major wins over Roger. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are far in front with ten triumphs each, followed by six players who celebrated two victories over the Swiss, including Alex Corretja, Arnaud Clement, David Nalbandian, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Juan Martin del Potro.
On Friday, John Millman squandered the opportunity to join the exclusive list, toppling Federer at the US Open 2018 and standing two points away from the win in front of the home fans in Melbourne before a heartbreaking loss.
Roger needed four hours and three minutes to edge the Aussie 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 4-6 7-6 in one of the matches of the tournament! Serving at 73%, Millman lost only eight points behind the initial shot in the opener, suffering one break and delivering two to forge the advantage despite a setback in the closing stages.
Battling to find his strokes, Federer sprayed almost 20 unforced errors in set number two but this time had the advantage behind the initial shot, dropping five points in his games and claiming the tie break 7-2 to level the overall score.
Still hitting more unforced errors than winners, Roger was safe in his service games in set number three as well, delivering five good holds and challenging John to repeat that if he wanted to stay in contention. Millman fended off a break chance in the eighth game with a brave forehand winner, unable to repeat that at 4-5 when his backhand landed long, handing a break to Roger who took a big step towards the finish line.
Facing an ultimate challenge and with no room for errors, the Aussie landed only 47% of the first serve in the fourth set and still performed five commanding service games that kept Roger away from break chances. The Swiss couldn't find his range again (14 winners and 16 unforced errors) and had to pay the price in the seventh game when John forced a mistake to secure the crucial break that sent him 4-3 in front.
Serving for the set at 5-4, the ice-cold Aussie held at love with a service winner to send the clash into a deciding set, two hours and 54 minutes after the first point. With the momentum on his side, Millman broke in the third game thanks to another loose forehand from Federer who converted the third break chance after a great battle in the next game to level the score at 2-2.
The Swiss held with a volley winner in the next game and Millman matched that to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard and add more drama and excitement. Facing two break chances in the seventh game, Roger erased both with powerful hitting and held with two winners that got him out of jail and put the pressure back on John.
From 30-0 down in the eighth game, Millman won four straight points for another pivotal hold before Roger brought the next game home with an ace for a 5-4 lead, forcing the Aussie to serve for staying in the match after the break, 20 minutes after the midnight.
Holding his nerves, John delivered a great hold to lock the result at 5-5 ahead of the closing games of this incredible encounter. The more experienced player closed the 11th game with a service winner and Millman had to serve for staying in the match again at 5-6, wasting game points and allowing Roger to reach deuce.
With no room for errors, John forced a mistake from his opponent before missing a forehand for another deuce, holding from there to set up the deciding match tie break thanks to a service winner. The Aussie opened a 3-0 lead after some loose shots from the Swiss who won the next two points to remain in touch.
Millman grabbed two points on serve to gain a 5-2 advantage, with a response from Roger who stayed within one mini-break deficit at 4-5. A beautiful volley winner pushed Millman 6-4 in front, landing a forehand down the line winner to take a big step towards the finish line ahead of two points on Roger's serve.
A forehand crosscourt winner delivered another mini-break for the Aussie who finally lost a point on serve to keep Federer within 6-8 deficit. Federer earned another mini-break and won the next point on serve to move 9-8 up, creating the first match point. He converted it with a forehand winner to prevail and stay in the title chase after an incredible fight.