Speaking with Todd Woodbridge, John Millman recalled the Australian Open clash against Roger Federer, repeating he gave his everything and left the court with his head up despite a tight loss. The two met in the third round in Melbourne and Federer prevailed 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 first set, getting broken once and delivering two breaks to take it 6-4 and gain a massive boost ahead of the remaining sets, knowing how to beat Roger at Majors after already achieving that in New York.
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 and get back into contention.
The Swiss played at a high level in set number three as well, earning a break at 5-4 to open two sets to one lead, looking good to seal the deal in the fourth. Facing an ultimate challenge and having no room for errors, the Aussie served at only 47% in the fourth set and despite that performed five commanding service games that kept Roger away from break chances.
John found a way to break the opponent at 3-3, 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 and avoid to chase result.
Playing against break chances at 3-3, 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 that would only get better. 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, bringing the game home after a couple of deuces to set the deciding match tie break.
The home player opened a 3-0 lead after some loose shots from the Swiss who won the next two points to remain in touch. Millman moved 5-2 in front with a couple of good serves, 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 and hoping for more of the same in the next couple of minutes. 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.
"You never think the match is in your hands when you play against someone like Roger Federer; you are never getting too far ahead of yourself. Still, I felt calm throughout the encounter, just like I did when I beat him at the US Open.
That's the first step you need to take to stand a chance against those guys; to remain calm and composed and also to think clearly and make the right decisions at the right time. The show courts at Melbourne Park are slower from those outside ones and there wasn't such a thing as a comfortable hold.
I was aware it was still a long way to go and I played well until the end; it's just I couldn't cross the finish line. I was devastated at the end of the match, as I would be against any other opponent after being a couple of points away from the triumph. On the other hand, I was also proud of the way I fought and the fact I gave everything I had."