Roger Federer is through to the last sixteen in Melbourne after dicing with death against John Millman, completing a rollercoaster ride of an encounter to win his 100th match at the Australian Open in four hours and three minutes.
The six-time champion had to recover from a break down in the fifth set and a 4-8 deficit in the Champions Tie Break to record a 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(10-8) victory.
Along with becoming a member of the one hundred club at Melbourne Park, he's now the joint all-time tour leader of 5th set victories with twenty-nine, after snapping a losing streak of three straight fifth set losses.
It's also the first time the Swiss has won a fifth set deciding tie break, having lost his three previous attempts at the Masters Cup in 2005, Rome in 2006 and Wimbledon in 2019.
Federer will next face Marton Fucsovics who's having an impressive run here in Melbourne beating Shapovalov, Sinner and Tommy Paul to make the fourth round.
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss and elected to receive. Millman kicked off with a confident hold to love before Federer quickly levelled at 1-1.
At 30-15 in game three, Millman came out on top of a twenty-five shot rally after Federer mistimed a slice backhand despite being in control of the point. An ace gave Millman the hold to lead 2-1.
With the blood pumping after the lengthy rally, the Aussie was looking the sharper of the two and fashioned a breakpoint at 30-40 in game four. Federer saved it, but a backhand pass wide gave Millman another chance which he converted, ripping a backhand winner off a short ball for 3-1.
A chance to hit straight back came Federer's way when he created 0-30 and then 30-40, but Millman had the upper hand from the baseline to save break point en route to holding for 4-1.
Federer found a much-needed hold to keep the gap at one break, but his timing from the baseline was AWOL as Millman held to love for 5-2.
While the baseline game wasn't firing, the Swiss began to find his spots on serve, throwing in a love hold to put the score at 3-5.
Millman had looked flawless on serve in the first eight games, but he wasn't able to land a first serve as Federer created 0-40 in game nine. A forehand wide missed off a short ball wasted the first chance, but Federer converted the second breakpoint thanks to a sweet forehand lob then backhand bunt down the line.
However, having done the hard work to stay alive in the set, a double fault gave Millman three set points, and he sealed it to take it 6-4.
Into set two and Roger immediately had 0-30 on Millman's serve but the Aussie reeled off four points in a row to lead 1-0.
Comfortable back to back holds from Federer saw him level at 2-2 and he was able to make deuce on the Millman serve in game five, but again the Aussie held to lead 3-2.
In game seven, a double fault from Millman gave Roger a half window at thirty all, but it was quickly shut as Millman held for 4-3.
Federer then fired down a quick hold to level at 4-4, but Millman responded in kind with one of his own as Roger opted to stand deep on the return.
Another love game, this time from Federer put him level at 5-5. Millman was quickly up 30-0, but a double fault got Roger in the game, and he was able to fashion a breakpoint thanks to a baseline finding forehand.
Millman saved it when Roger returned passively, and the set was soon into a tie break.
Into the breaker and a change of direction on the forehand gave Roger the early mini-break to lead 3-1. An excellent move forward allowed him to win the next return point to lead 4-1. Then an athletic smash off a testing lob maintained his advantage. He went on to win the tie break 7-2.
Federer kicked off set three with a hold to thirty to keep the momentum, but Millman showed he was far from done with yet more impressive court coverage to level.
An essential hold from Roger put him 2-1 up, and a 0-30 chance came his way after a Millman double-faulted, but he couldn't find a breakpoint chance.
In game eight, a forehand long from Millman set up a breakpoint, but the Aussie saved it with a big forehand to make deuce and then came out on top of a 27 shot rally before holding for 4-4.
After that lung buster of a rally, Roger produced a quick hold to get Millman serving again, and the Queenslander double-faulted at 30-30 to give Roger set point. An ace erased it but a second set point followed and Federer came out on top of a cagey rally to take it 6-4.
Set four started with a vital hold from Federer after being pegged to deuce and he was able to open another 0-30 window in Millman's first service game but couldn't find the break chance.
A quick hold put Roger up 2-1, and he had started to find more of a groove on serve. More inroads came his way in Millman's next service game with another deuce, but a stunning pass from Millman got him out of the game.
In game seven, Millman produced a powerful return at 30-30 and then came out on top another long rally to break for 4-3.
Yet another 0-30 chance for Roger came in game eight, but Millman reeled off four points in a row to consolidate the break for 5-3.
A hold to love then secured the set for Millman as he took it 6-4 despite only serving at 47%.
The fifth started with a hold to fifteen from Federer, but in his next service game he played way too passively at 15-30 and Millman was able to break to lead 2-1.
A good return got Federer an inroad into his next return game, and he set up breakpoint with a bullet forehand up the line. Millman saved it, and another before holding a game point but some big forehands saw Roger reel off three points in a row to break back for 2-2.
A hold from deuce put Roger up 3-2, but Millman fired down a routine hold to level and then found himself with two breakpoints at 15-40. Roger erased them, coming up with some clutch play to hold for a 4-3 lead.
At 0-30 in game eight, Federer looked like he'd found a way through, but some weak returning saw Millman win four points in a row to hold for 4-4.
Two double faults didn't help Federer's cause in game nine, but he held to thirty to take a 5-4 lead. Unphased Millman held to thirty for 5-5 with some solid play under pressure.
A convincing hold from Federer to fifteen put him a game away at 6-5. The Swiss then made deuce on the Millman serve but never really had him under pressure, and he held to force a Champions Tie Break.
Into the breaker and a forehand long gave Millman an immediate mini-break and he was quickly up 3-0.
Roger kept in touch by winning both his service points but Millman mirrored him to forge a 5-2 lead.
That trend continued as Millman kept his advantage to 7-4 and then secured a double mini-break for 8-4, picking off a safe forehand approach shot with a solid pass.
Federer won his next service point for 5-8, but Millman had two serves for it. However, the Aussie got a little tight, making two unforced errors from the baseline with Federer playing rock steady to reach 7-8.
A Federer drop shot that Millman had a play on but sent long brought up 8-8 and Roger was the first to hold a match point at 9-8, converting it to steal the breaker 10-8 and move into Round 4.
|Aus Open 3R 2020||John Millman||Roger Federer|
|1st serve in||62% (118/189)||65% (111/170)|
|Win 1st serve||68% (80/118)||77% (85/111)|
|Win 2nd serve||61% (43/71)||51% (30/59)|
|Breakpoints won||50% (4/8)||30% (3/10)|
|Net points won||38% (9/24)||72% (46/64)|
|Receiving points won||29% (49/170)||33% (62/189)|
|Return unforced errors||3||11|
|Total points won||178||181|
|Fastest serve||200 km/h||197 km/h|
|1st Serve Average||185 km/h||183 km/h|
|2nd serve average||148 km/h||156 km/h|
On Court Interview
Thoughts on the Match
Oh God, it was tough. Thank God it was a Match Tie-break, otherwise, I would have lost this one. Where to start? I think John played a great match. He is a great fighter, a good guy and it came down to the wire at the end. A bit of luck maybe goes one way. I had to stay so focused, take the right decision. He was doing all that stuff at the beginning of the Match Tie-break, coming up with the goods and I thought Okay, I guess I tried. I didn’t play too bad after all and I was getting ready to explain myself in the press conference. What a match and John deserves over half of this one.
I had to figure out a way to get him in trouble on his serve. He’s not known to be the best server. He’s got a good serve, but it is not like the tall guys coming in super fast and everything. But he was doing such a nice job of not making many mistakes and I was struggling in the forehand crosscourt, backhand crosscourt. He was dominating both sides, so I think for me it was a matter of holding my own serve, figure out a way and give myself time and chances…
I never really felt comfortable and I thought John did a great job of keeping me on my back foot. I couldn’t always step in, until the last shot. I went for it. He picked the wrong side. It was tough… John made it so difficult for me tonight. Federer speaking to Jim Courier after his victory over Millman
A round three rollercoaster from Roger Federer that could have gone either way. What it lacked in high-quality tennis, it made up for in drama with Fed having to dig deep and win six points in a row to win the champions tie break.
I expected the match to be competitive but Fed to come through in three or four sets, but for whatever reason, Millboy becomes Millman when he plays Federer and makes life ultra-difficult for him.
The Aussie has got immense court coverage, great anticipation and just does everything well. Time and time again, he made Federer play one more ball and was coming out on top of virtually all the cross-court exchanges.
He has no big weapons which you'd think makes him easy pickings for Roger, but styles make fights, and Millman's ball isn't one Federer ever feels comfortable with. Whether it's the variable trajectory or how he always seems to be in a position to hit another shot, I'm not sure but hitting through him never looked likely.
Fortunately though rarely does Roger just roll over when he can't trailblaze forehand winners, and he found a way to win even when that shot wasn't firing (48 unforced errors on that wing).
After dropping that first set, he tightened up his service games and managed to grind his way into it. By the middle of the fourth set, he was in control and had more success by throwing in some loopier stuff and using the forehand up the line into the backhand more rather than just trading blow to blow crosscourt. However, he missed way too many windows of opportunity at 0-30 in that fourth set (11 unforced return errors in the match) and got dragged into a fifth.
From there it was a matter of trying to hold serve, and although he faltered early, the game to break back was impressive and then to save a breakpoint to hold for 4-3 was huge.
The breaker as always was a lottery and Millman will rue those service points at 8-5 where he missed two groundstrokes but credit to Federer for sticking it out and finding a way to get over the line.
Predictions vs. Fucsovics
Next up is Marton Fucsovics who continued his impressive run in Melbourne with a straight-sets win over Tommy Paul.
The Hungarian had retired in his last match at the Bendigo Challenger before the Australian Open, so it's a bit of a surprise to see him make the last sixteen. However, he made the fourth round here in 2018 (losing to, you guessed it, Federer) so results-wise Australia is his best Grand Slam.
I haven't seen any of his matches so far, but he's a rock-solid baseliner and in some ways similar to how Millman plays. Federer leads the H2H with him 2-0 and has practised with multiple times in Switzerland, so he's fully aware of what to expect.
It will be interesting to see how Roger rocks up after spending four hours on court today but as long as he's got a good level of explosivity in the legs and serves well I like his chances to progress.
What did you guys think of the win against Millman? Predictions against Fucsovics? Let me know in the comments.