Australian John Millman shocks Roger Federer to reach US Open quarter-finals

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John Millman will play Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.

Unheralded Australian John Millman pulled off one of the all-time great tennis shocks by defeating Roger Federer to reach the US Open quarter-finals.

Millman had been given barely a sniff before the match, with excitement already building for a last-eight clash between Federer and Djokovic.

The 29-year-old, who had never previously beaten a top-10 opponent, appeared to have even less chance of winning with Federer a set and a break up and holding two set points, but he somehow clawed his way back to clinch a 3-6 7-5 7-6 (8/6) 7-6 (7/3) victory.

While Millman produced the performance of his life, Federer gave one of his poorest performances on the big stage, struggling with all parts of his game and making 76 unforced errors.

It was the 37-year-old’s earliest loss at a slam since the Australian Open in 2015 and the first time he has ever lost to a player ranked outside the top 50 in New York.

Federer had struggled with his timing in the early stages of his previous match against Nick Kyrgios before clicking into gear, but against Millman he just could not find his game.

His serve, in particular, was way off during the first two sets. In the second game of the second set he faced seven break points and landed only four of 22 first serves but still held.

And at a set and 5-4 up with two set points on his own serve, it seemed this would simply be a case of Federer grinding out a relatively straightforward victory.

Switzerland's Roger Federer waves as he walks off court after losing his 2018 US Open Men's Singles tennis match against Australia's John Millman at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 3, 2018. - Five-time champion Roger Federer crashed out of the US Open fourth round, beaten in four sets by 55th-ranked Australian John Millman. (Photo by EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Roger Federer exits the Arthur Ashe Stadium court.

But the two set points came and went and a double fault gave Millman the break back. Two games later, Federer was facing set point against him, and he blazed a backhand long.

Federer, renowned as the man who never sweats, was perspiring heavily and it was not entirely down to the extreme humidity.

Millman, ranked 55, could not be less like his compatriot Kyrgios. A universally popular player who has built a successful career, despite several serious injury setbacks, on never giving an inch.

And, as Federer continued to struggle, the Australian’s confidence grew. Had the 20-time grand slam champion’s serve not improved, he might have lost the third set before the tie-break.

Millman cursed himself for missing one set point but threw everything into a series of forehands to bring up a second and forced Federer into another error.

The crowd on Arthur Ashe, who were overwhelmingly behind the Swiss, could not believe what they were seeing.

Federer had so little confidence in his groundstrokes he was playing drop shots nearly every point, with mixed success. A chink of light arrived with a break for 4-2 only for more mistakes to hand it straight back.

Successive double faults put him firmly on the back foot in the tie-break and there was no way back.

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Watch: Amazing round the net shot by Federer against Kyrgios

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Sublime: Roger Federer.

Roger Federer stole the show to put Nick Kyrgios in his place at the US Open.

The pair met in the third round in the most highly-anticipated men’s match of the tournament so far, but it proved to be style over substance as Federer raced to a 6-4 6-1 7-5 victory inside two hours.

There was still plenty to keep the Arthur Ashe crowd entertained, especially the forehand that Federer played around the net post in the seventh game of the third set that left Kyrgios open-mouthed in disbelief.

The Australian said: “It was almost unreal. It almost got to the point where I wanted him to start making shots like that, and I finally got it. If anyone else is doing those shots against me, I’m probably not too happy. But it’s Roger.”

Two days after the controversy over his pep talk from umpire Mohamed Lahyani during a second-round win over Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Kyrgios had hoped his tennis could write the headlines.

But a missed chance in the opening set, when he had Federer at 0-40 in the seventh game, proved the turning point. From 4-4, the second seed won seven games in a row and, although the third set was more competitive, Federer always looked in control.

Kyrgios ranted at his box after losing the first set, which he attributed to pressure.

“I got to the business end of the first set, crucial moment,” he said. “I played a terrible service game, didn’t make any first serves. It was tough. I knew how important that first set was.

“He loosened up straightaway after that. All the pressure was off him. He’s an unbelievable front-runner. When he gets in front, there’s not much you can do. He was way too good. Obviously I was not at my best, but that’s how he makes you play. He makes the court feel really small at times.”

Kyrgios certainly had a better attitude on court than against Herbert, and he can normally be relied upon to keep his focus against the big names, but he remains a hugely frustrating player who frequently favours the spectacular over the reliable.

Federer said: “You feel like you have to be the consistent guy rather than the flashy guy, just because he has a tendency to throw in the odd shot that you just don’t normally see on the tour.

“Other guys play the shot you’re supposed to hit and then, if you get beat, you’re like, ‘Maybe I should have hit Nick’s shot?’. Nick goes the other way around. He hits that shot but then, if he doesn’t win that point, maybe he tells himself, ‘Well, maybe I should have hit a normal shot’.

“Today I think he didn’t come up with the goods when he really had to, and I was good, by making him hit that extra shot.”

Imitation has become a Kyrgios staple and, after sprinting out for the warm-up like Rafael Nadal, the Australian pulled out a Federer serve in the fourth game.

The Swiss, who next plays a rather different Australian character in John Millman, did not take offence, saying: “We have all imitated serves. Sure, it’s unusual to happen against you with your own serve.

“I knew right away, and I have seen him doing it several times over the last few months. Also that he’s been using my serve sometimes to great effect, which I’m very happy to see. It’s good fun.”

Kyrgios still does not have a coach, although he has been working with a physical trainer, and he appears open to the idea of speaking to a psychologist as he seeks the path that could see him fulfil his talent.

He said: “I have been around for about four years now. I have barely done anything. I think I can do a lot more. It’s all mental with me. If I want it enough, I have a coaching option, psychology option. I think there is a lot more things to explore. Obviously I want to achieve more in the sport.”

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Roger Federer breezes past Nick Kyrgios and into US Open fourth round

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Roger Federer swatted aside the challenge of Nick Kyrgios to breeze into the fourth round of the US Open.

Two days after the controversy over his pep talk from umpire Mohamed Lahyani during a second-round win over Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Kyrgios had hoped his tennis could write the headlines.

But a missed chance in the opening set proved the turning point as Federer raced to a 6-4, 6-1, 7-5 victory after just an hour and 44 minutes.

“I’m very happy to have won,” said the second seed. “I thought I played very well. At the beginning it was hard to get any rhythm, the first set was key. I enjoy playing against Nick, he comes up with different shot-making. He keeps you on the edge.”

If Rafael Nadal against Karen Khachanov was a gladiatorial battle, this was part tennis match, part circus show, and Federer was the ringmaster.

They had played three times before, with Federer winning two, but each had gone to a deciding tie-break, so hopes were high that this could be a tight contest.

Keeping his head down is not Kyrgios’ style and he ran out for the warm-up like Nadal before imitating Federer’s service motion in the fourth game.

It won him the point, but probably did not impress the man down the other end. Federer admits he, too, does things on court to keep himself entertained, trying different tactics like his half-volley return, but it is unlikely he empathises too much with Kyrgios’ approach to tennis.

Kyrgios

For 25 minutes, this was a compelling contest, and, had Kyrgios taken advantage of four break points in the seventh game, including three at 0-40, then the match might have panned out very differently.

But he could not and three games later Federer found a way into a Kyrgios service game for the first time and sliced a backhand return down the line to take the set.

Kyrgios began to rant at his box and things swiftly went from bad to worse at the start of the second set. Sitting down at 0-3, the scoreline was exactly the same as it had been against Herbert when Lahyani intervened, but umpire James Keothavong stayed firmly in his chair.

All the tricks were coming from the Federer racket as he drop-shotted his opponent almost at will and arrowed passing shots inside the lines.

Kyrgios at least avoided a love set, stopping the run of games against him at nine, and the third set gave the crowd the contest they had been hoping to see.

The seventh game was a show in itself, highlighted by a forehand Federer somehow guided round the net-post that left Kyrgios open-mouthed in amazement.

Speaking about the shot afterwards, Federer said: “The funny thing about this shot is I didn’t think of it until I hit it. I thought I was not going to get it. I realised it went too flat. Definitely a bit of luck but also good feet and I guess I deserved it.”

Federer broke serve to lead 6-5 and served out the victory to love to set up a last-16 meeting with another Australian, the unheralded John Millman.

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