Only hours after an epic five-set loss to Roger Federer at the Australian Open, a simple tweet — consisting of no more than three words — summed up just how John Millman is feeling right now.
- John Millman was just two points away from victory when Roger Federer launched an astonishing fightback in the fifth-set tiebreak
- Millman had come back from two sets to love down to force a deciding fifth in the third-round match
- Federer said he had enormous respect for Millman after being pushed to five sets
“Well that sucked …” Millman tweeted this morning to his more than 20,000 followers on Twitter.
It was blunt and to the point, and did little to hide the Australian’s disappointment after he went down fighting in a gripping 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (10/8) third-round loss to Federer on Rod Laver Arena this morning.
The see-sawing contest lasted longer than four hours and finished at 12:49am (local time) and by the time the two players embraced at the net after Federer had sealed his triumph, Millman had attracted a fresh wave of supporters not only in Australia but worldwide.
The 47th-ranked Millman may stew for a while about the fact he was only two points away from an upset result when he led Federer 8-4 in the 10-point tiebreak that decided the fifth set and the match.
Federer, who holds the men’s record for most major singles titles with a mammoth 20, had to draw on his more than two decades of experience at Grand Slam tournaments to claw his way back into the tiebreak and win the next six points to claim his win.
As impressive as Federer was in stealing victory from the jaws of defeat in front of a captivated crowd, Millman produced a stunning performance of which he can be justifiably proud.
He trailed two sets to one before winning the fourth to level the match, while he had Federer on the ropes early in the tiebreak as his legion of fans dared to dream.
Federer (left) was full of praise for Millman after they went the distance on Rod Laver Arena. (AAP: Dave Hunt)
But for the time being, the 30-year-old — one of the more popular players on the ATP Tour — cannot help but reflect on what might have been.
“I played some alright tennis to get there to that stage,” Millman told his post-match media conference in the early hours of the morning.
“I could have gone away easily in that fourth set. Roger was playing pretty well, [he] had the momentum.
“I thought I turned it around pretty well. Yeah, [I] left everything out there.”
Millman’s ‘got great attitude’
Millman’s display did not surprise Federer, who famously lost to the lanky Queenslander in a fourth-round encounter at the US Open in 2018.
The Swiss was full of praise for Millman after the match, highlighting what a difficult opponent he had been to face as the Australian Open moved closer to its pivotal second week.
“I think the biggest problem for me was … I was just not getting into those neutral rallies, finding the ways to unlock him,” Federer said.
“That’s [to] his credit. He’s a great player. He’s got great attitude, and that’s why I mumbled something to him at the net, just saying ‘I have so much respect for you and it’s such a pity. I’m so sorry but well played’, and all that stuff, because I really feel that way for John.”
John Millman’s game plan left Federer frustrated during their gripping encounter. (AP: Dita Alangkara)
The fifth-set tiebreak had especially left an impression on the 38-year-old Federer — who is bidding for a seventh Australian Open crown in Melbourne — as he noted the high quality of Millman’s play.
“It was a tough tiebreaker throughout because I didn’t feel like I was playing badly,” he said.
“He punished me every single time. He was really coming up with the goods and was able to stretch the lead.
“Once he had the lead, I was always able to hold on with my serve and win my points, which was really important.
“Then of course, there were crucial points, 8-7, 8-8, 9-8. I’m happy they all went my way. Things were extremely difficult, not just in the breaker [but] throughout the match for me against John.”
As Federer lives to fight another day ahead of facing Hungarian Marton Fucsovics for a place in the quarter-finals, Millman will re-group and turn his attention to the remainder of the 2020 season.
But as he rightly takes immense pride from his showing against Federer, he knows the emotional pain of such an agonising defeat may take some time to subside.
“I left it all out there, [I] didn’t win,” Millman said.