John Millman: 'Against Roger Federer, I played with a torn calf'

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John Millman: 'Against Roger Federer, I played with a torn calf'

World no. 43 John Millman will lead Australia against Brazil this weekend in Adelaide, with two nations battling in the Davis Cup Qualifiers for the place at the Davis Cup Finals in November. John has lost the last three matches on the Tour, starting from that amazing clash with Roger Federer in Melbourne, hoping to bounce back in a couple of days and get back on the winning path against the lower-ranked opponents.

The Aussie revealed he played against Federer with a torn calf, giving his 120% in front of the home fans but still ending on the losing side. In the third round of the Australian Open, Roger Federer took down Millman 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 4-6 7-6 in four hours and three minutes, overcoming an 8-4 deficit in the deciding tie break to avoid an early exit!

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. Federer was the more aggressive player but it wasn't enough to give him the edge, spraying too many errors and finding no way to break the rival's rhythm or drive him away from the comfort zone.

John grabbed a break in the fourth game with a backhand winner, serving for the set at 5-3 when Federer broke back at 15 with a beautiful backhand down the line winner to prolong the set. Out of sudden, the Aussie clinched a break at love in the tenth game following a forehand error from the Swiss, taking the opener 6-4 after 32 minutes and looking good to cause an upset, just like in New York 2018.

Still having the upper hand on the court in set number two, Federer blasted 13 winners and 18 unforced errors and had the advantage in service games, losing only five points throughout the set and mounting the pressure on Millman who had to give his best to stay in touch after landing only 52% of the first serve in.

The Aussie fended off a break point at 5-5 with a service winner, reaching the tie break where Federer held strings in his hands to grab it 7-2 with some powerful smashes, securing the set with a perfect volley winner in the ninth point to level the overall score at 1-1.

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 repelled a break chance in the eighth game with a brave forehand winner, unable to repeat that two games later when his backhand landed long, handing a break to Roger who clinched the set 6-4 and took a big step towards the finish line.

Facing an ultimate challenge and with no room for errors, the Aussie served at only 47% 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 the home player 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 opening point. With the momentum on his side, Millman broke in the third game of the final set 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. Playing against 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 clinched 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.