Lleyton Hewitt: 'John Millman could have defeated Roger Federer at Australian Open'


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Lleyton Hewitt: 'John Millman could have defeated Roger Federer at Australian Open'

Over the course of the last weekend, Australia hosted Brazil in the Davis Cup Qualifiers round and scored a 3-1 win to secure the place at the Davis Cup Finals in November. Thiago Monteiro and Thiago Seyboth Wild gave their best to stay in touch against the home players, losing two tight rubbers against John Millman who led Australia through after ousting Monteiro in three tie breaks in the fourth rubber.

The Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt praised the effort of the entire team and reflected on Millman who should stay in the top-40 or top-50 if he keeps this level. Also, Lleyton spoke about that epic third-round Australian Open clash between Millman and Roger Federer, with the Aussies wasted a massive opportunity to stun the 20-time Major champion.

Federer toppled 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 and avoiding an early exit at his second most successful Major! Millman played well in the opener, getting broken once and delivering two breaks to take it 6-4 and gain a massive boost ahead of the remaining sets.

In set number two, Federer lost only five points behind the initial shot, keeping the pressure on the other side of the net and securing the set with a volley winner at 6-2 in the tie break to level the overall score. The Swiss played at a high level in set number three as well, earning a break at 5-4 to take two sets to one lead and looking good to seal the deal in the fourth set.

Facing an ultimate challenge and having no room for errors, the Aussie served at only 47% in the fourth set and performed five commanding service games that kept Roger away from break chances. John found a way to break Roger in the seventh game, securing the set with a service winner in game ten and forcing a decider after two hours and 54 minutes of high-quality battle on Rod Laver Arena.

With the momentum on his side, Millman broke in the third game of the final set, with Federer converting the third break chance in the next game to level the score at 2-2. Playing against break chances in the seventh game, Roger erased both and held with two winners that got him out of jail and put the pressure back on John.

From 30-0 down in the next 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. 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 and brought the game home after a couple of deuces to set the deciding match tie break.

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. 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.

Using his vast experience, Roger earned another mini-break and won the next point to move 9-8 up, creating the first match point. He converted it with a forehand winner to seal the deal and forge one of his most thrilling victories in Melbourne, two decades after making a debut at the first Major of the season.

"I could not have been prouder of the boys led by John Millman and his heroics during the Davis Cup weekend," Hewit said. "If John can keep his body right, he plays well on all surfaces, especially hard court and clay; he is always going to give himself a great chance out there.

He was close to beating Roger Federer at the Australian Open, a point or two, and if he was able to turn that around, you go deep in those Majors and all of a sudden, the ranking goes up a lot higher. He is going to stay inside the top-40 or top-50 in the world."