Australian OpenGrand SlamsRoger Federer

Federer Battles Past Millman To Make Last 16 in Melbourne

The Swiss had to prevail in a Champions Tiebreak, winning through 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (10-8) in 4 hours and 3 minutes.

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

Fed Millman Ao 3r 2020

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.

Match Stats

Aus Open 3R 2020 John Millman Roger Federer
Aces 11 16
Double faults 4 6
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)
Winners 40 62
Return winners 0 1
Unforced errors 48 82
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

Highlights

On Court Interview

Press Conference

Thoughts on the Match

Federer Millman Ao 3r 2020

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

Federer 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.

Jonathan

Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or tweeting about tennis I play regularly myself and use this blog to share my thoughts on Federer and tennis in general.

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91 Comments

  1. I was sure Fed was done at 8-4 and went to the car to drive to work. Checked the score before I left the garage and saw he tied it at 8-8. I quickly got out of the car, ran back into the house and saw him clinch/snatch the victory! This is what we live for. Thank you as always Jonathan for the write up!

  2. I don’t know what to make of Federer serve these days. He was never a huge server, but he seems to be struggling to hit a 121 mph mark recently. And 48 unforced errors on the forehand!? I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite so many from him.

      1. Well, typically he would hit 124-125 mph as his fastest serve per set, even in the recent years. But against Millman it took him almost 3 hours to get to 122 mph. It surely is not a huge difference, placement and disguise are more important thansheer serve speed. But small margins matter as well, a few unreturned serves here and there can make a difference between winning and losing a match.

  3. When I returned from lunch and checked the phone, my son had texted me “damn” together with a screenshot of the final score which I didn’t even bother to check and instinctively closed WhatsApp.
    Then I opened FlashScore to see the score progression, said “Whaaat? He got it wrong!”
    No, he had got it right. I asked what was the “damn” for.
    He replied that it was because of the 4-8. It turned out to be a relief “damn”.
    *”damn” = free translation.

  4. I missed the first two sets and woke up to see this absolutely fantastic match.
    A roller coaster all the way, felt exhausted but soo happy.
    I agree with you Jonathan: Millboy becomes Millman playing with Roger!
    But Maestro is a Maestro and he managed to the last moment!

  5. I am exhausted just watching the match today. I really admire these guys for playing five sets and then still coming up with shots that seem out of this world. Lots of errors but some of those moments of brilliance just makes it worthwhile. There were a lot of support for Millman but the support for Federer is just incredible, which makes things just more exciting. Go Fed!

  6. Wow. What a relief to get a break in winning such close matches. Very lucky to get thorough. In a normal TB, he would be going home with a 7-4 loss in final set. Slow courts and night matches are not the ideal for a Roger win against a grinder who is having a good day. Lucky for us all, there is one more match. Fucsovics will be more of the same as tonight, hopefully with less UFEs and 3 easier sets.

    1. Yeah Fucsovics is interesting, was a promising junior, not hit the real heights as a pro but won’t be easy for Fed. He did get a tie break against him in 2018.

  7. Thanks again, Jonathan ☺️. I wasn’t aware of the match tiebreak rules, so (following live score) I thought him done at Milman’s 7, went depressed away to get life together again, – and now seeing – oh miracle, Fed resurrected 😊
    But no high lights anywhere? Will it come later, or has anybody found it somewhere else?

      1. If there must be a tiebreaker (which I don’t want, 2 game difference will always be the best), it must be a 10 point breaker at 6-6.
        Every GS must have the same rules…

  8. Hard to assess whether:
    1. This win galvanises Roger
    2. Has taken a lot out of him
    3. He’s still rusty

    I hope it galvanised him – his mini-section up to the semi-finals has really opened up.

    He might prefer the final match in the day session for the 4th round.

  9. That was WAY too close for comfort! I hope that was Fed’s “senior” match and he will go back to being a spring chicken when he plays Fucsovics.

  10. I felt like he was going out for probably 80% of the match. He played pretty poorly but what a fighter!
    I sense he may now be vulnerable to fatigue later in the tournament, but hope that he can play freely and like he has nothing to lose after probably thinking he was on a plane home at points in the Millman match!

  11. What a match. I gave up hope half way through the tie break but Fed did a nice job of tightening up his game and seeing if Millman got shaky which he did. I actually think his forehand was really sharp again at times even though the stats say otherwise. Super impressed in how he went up a level with his aggression in the second set tie break too. Hopefully he can get past Fucsovics without any drama and then he gets another days rest which will do wonders. Only shame is that the courts looks hard to hit through without new balls. What a GOAT.

    1. Yeah he did hit some really nice forehands crosscourt and up the line. Just tons of errors, maybe Millman made him think he had to go for too much and he kept trying to cream balls that weren’t there for hitting.

      Maybe he can start rolling the balls on his shirt to speed them up 😆

  12. Great write up. Well Milman has a kind of style that Fed can’t read. A lot of the points were similar to the US Open one, Miliman winning a lot of the baseline exchanges . Returning from Federer wasn’t great . I think he really will regret not winning this in 4. He was in control there and then got broken out of nowhere. At leas the pulled it together and ground it out .

    He gets one full day of rest. Ouch, 48 forehand errors ! Has to be the opponent in his head.
    Winning the first set is so key for Federer these days. Here he did well to break back and then inexplicably threw in a terrible service game at 4-5 to hand over the 1st set.

    Tsitsipas out as well to Raonic. Maybe he can push Djokovic to a few tiebreakers with big serving, but I doubt it.

  13. Did not disappoint! Was difficult to watch, so wanted Roger to win! Happy for Roger and his team! Hopefully he gets enough rest before his next match! So gruelling!

  14. Total points should be 178 Millman vs 181 Federer. The 197 in your table for Federer is probably for the next entry (fastest serve).

  15. Holy… cow I guess. No idea how on earth Roger managed to win that one, but somehow he did. Only thing I’m concerned about is that he might be a bit tired for Sunday, it can go both ways. We’ve seen tournaments where a tough early match has spurred Roger on to win (AO 2017 and WB 2012), but also ones where a close escape has been followed by an even worse match the following round e.g. 2016 WB and 2014 USO. No idea which way it will go this time, guess we just wait, watch and hope.

    1. Yes, I’m trying to tell myself not to be surprised if he can’t recover in time to win the following match, although of course I hope he can.

      I was working through to the end of set 4, so just turned the Radio 5 commentary on for the final set, just in time to hear the commies saying that it looked very much like a repeat of the USO 2018, with Roger being pigheaded (well, that was my word, not theirs), looking as if he didn’t entirely want to be on court and refusing to alter his game and try something different. Sounds as though he did at least ultimately try something a bit different?

  16. I can’t help but compare this match against SW19 epic final. A complete opposite from where he shouldn’t have lost that match. This match he practically stole the match from Millman. Vast experience and ability to dig deep into his bag plus all those TBs played at Laver Cup helps. My only worry is the after effects of winning 5 setter. Roger tend to come out flat in his next match after epic win. I hope he stay focus and well rested.

    1. Yeh be interested to see how it goes physically. Not many matches in the legs so could be a bit of a shock to the system. Or he’s not too bad having come in fresh.

      Played plenty 5 setters in 2017.

  17. That was so stressful. First of all kudos to Millman. His ground stroke and the ability to strike balls in order for roger to run in every corner of the court was outstanding. His passing shots, serve was also great, basically he was clearly better man out there.

    But well a win is a win. That clutching moment were very memorable. I was shouting on roger on the tv that do not do dangerous hits, just put it on the rally, and then roger will give the opposite of what I wanted. Well that’s why he was fun/stressful to watch. His gameplay was not boring. With a bit of luck and a mental toughness was the key for this match… The backhand was there but the forehand was a bit off today. Also millman have that great return.

    Not gonna lie, I turned off the tv on the tie break, felt guilty and saw when it is 8-7… The whole match was so stressful.. \
    Anyways… A win is a win… I hope he can recover before the next match.. I’m concerned about his back and he really runs back and forth which makes him more exhausted… Haven’t watch any match of fuscovics so I don’t have any idea about him..

      1. I know..but i think im gonna pass out with that so much pressure .. i will noT do it again:(

        How can u sustain it? I mean, i think my heart will explode..

  18. I switched off the live score window, when Roger was broken in the 5th … and then tried to listen to the news bulletins, if he lost, that would make a headline news. Phew, this is close. I hope that this tough encounter will spur Roger on.
    Allez!

  19. What a match…what a win.
    I can’t believe you had enough energy to write up the post right after the match, chapeau to you Jonathan! I was dead.
    Somebody there for Fed’s practice today twitted he looked tired 🙁

  20. I was at home yesterday. The friend with whom I went to Roland Garros end May 2019 (cf my fan story) was at home too. We called each other at the end of each set to comment on yesterday’s match. During the final super tie break, our stress reached an apex. At the-end, I was yelling like a hooligan in front of the TV. What a relief the outcome was !

    What a champion Roger is ! He loves his job so much ! Admirable… I hope he won’t be too tired tomorrow. 

    Did you notice that he put his hand on the board with Ken Rosewall’s name in the corridor to the locker room after the match ? Reading in his thoughts, it would mean : “I DO want to be the oldest winner at the AO”. Let it be !

    PS for Jonathan : if you had to find an adjective to qualify Roger’s game yesterday,  as you did before : which one would it be ?

    1. Nice, FBRF, thanks for sharing. But Roger’s reaching out to KR in the corridor might also be interpreted something like: we 2 old men we have in common of still fighting on, I thank you for the inspiration from you, and appreciate sharing with you still loving the tennis enough to keep energy up whatever the extended number of hours in some match and whatever anybody might think and say… let’s show them, both of us!

  21. Wow, Jonathan. Is this the most comprehensive post ever? Play by play like a hockey game.

    It was a shock to awake at 5am and see the match still on. Heart racing within seconds. What a relief.

    Roger seems to think Millman is a great guy. Did anyone notice the continual coaching from Hewitt? The smirk on his face? And, what’s this about Millman rubbing the ball on his sweaty shirt before serving? We have to remember all those Aussies have convict blood in them.

    I watched the Shapo vs Fucsovics match. Fucsovics is in good form. This won’t be a cakewalk. Will Roger have recovered? He did a lot of running. And all those cross court rallies….
    Again in the middle of the night for me. Fed’s only played one day match. I wonder if he requested to be on second?

    1. Sven Groeneveld did and posted here and there. Both the ball thing and on-court coaching are not allowed. I’m wondering, why the umpire didn’t react. Millman may be a great guy, but on some special occasions maybe not so great.

  22. Having watched some highlights multiple times, I’ve got the impression that lots of Rogers’ balls were mid-court and with lots of top spins. Jonathan, do you think those were part of Roger’s tactics (knowing that Millman wanted to crush every ball for the first time of asking) or else? To me, that tactic didn’t quite work. Although he made a few mistakes by pushing the balls long, he punished Roger with the majority of the rest. What do you think?

    1. I thought Federer tried to crush most of his shots himself tbh and he still hits them with a heavy spin for that bit of margin. The balls are said to be pretty dead and heavy so not sure how they are taking spin but he’s putting just as many revs as normal on.

      You can see the RPM’s on individual shots on the AusOpen site, it’s called CourtVision. There is no average unfortunately, it’s just for individual shots but looks like Millman was putting plenty on himself, if not more. I think that is why Fed struggles, Millman hits quite an unpredictable ball…

    2. Although I do think in the 2nd 3rd and early 4th set he started putting a bit more air on some shots and using that short slice more rather than just cross-court exchanges and an error costing him the point. Caught Millman out a few times.

    3. I don’t think it was tactic but the effect of (too) heavy workload and resulting tiredness and trying to avoid unforced errors

    1. I think Millman was trying to slow down the balls, not sure if that worked, but he wasn’t doing that for nothing. I think there should be rules against that, in my opinion.

  23. Ha far fewer comments after today’s win. Good to see. After the 1st set things looked pretty bad and the conditions are so slow Federer was having trouble generating pace, grunting loudly on forehands and losing 10mph on the first serve on average. But Fuscovits’ level went down and Federer fortunately got an easy 2nd set and then could relax.

    Fed’s opponents know the strategy is to stretch him to the forehand now. ‘Never played any tennys before’ – great line. IF he can get a straightforward match at the QF maybe he can have something left for Djokovic.

    Does Kyrgios have any chance on these slow courts vs Nadal?

      1. Thanks, (I don’t subscribe at the moment, too busy and nervy, so have done with different highlights, but WILL reconsider – as it’s nearing history with epic rivals…and this of course with analyzing the Rafa/Nick rivalry IS interesting!)

  24. As far as I have understood the schedule, we have now 2 full days + to celebrate, and debate how to prevail vs Tennys. Nice!

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