US Open 2018: Roger Federer crashes out to unseeded John Millman in stifling conditions
Roger Federer failed to cope with stifling conditions at the US Open and suffered a shock 3-6 7-5 7-6(7) 7-6(3) defeat to unseeded Australian John Millman in the last 16.
Second seed Federer, who had not dropped a set in his first three matches, was uncharacteristically sloppy, committing 77 unforced errors and 10 double faults while landing just 49 percent of his first serves.
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There was little sign of what was in store for the five-times champion when he took the first set with ease, before world No. 55 Millman turned the tables to win the second then held his nerve through two tiebreaks to secure the victory in three hours and 34 minutes.
The Australian said he froze in the first set but was able to take control by relying on his fighting qualities. He said courtside:
"Felt like a deer in the headlights to begin with, to be honest. I've got to control the controllable and the one thing I can control is the fight in me. I've always brought the fight up."
Millman US Open 2018Getty Images
Federer started well, racing through the first set and unsettling Millman by dropping the ball short.
He looked to be cruising as he opened up a 5-3 lead in the second but squandered two set points when serving at 5-4 before making two unforced errors and a double fault that allowed Millman to draw level.
The 29-year-old Australian held serve and suddenly Federer found himself serving to force a tiebreak. He cracked, double faulting again and making two more unforced errors, as Millman roared back to level the match at 1-1.
After being caught out by the drop shot earlier in the match, Millman began to read it better and improved from a single net point won in the first set to 17 from a possible 30 by the end of the match.
Federer, who won five straight titles at Flushing Meadows between 2004 and 2008, continued to struggle with his serve, double faulting twice in a row in the final tiebreak and conceding the match with a forehand error.
Millman, who trained with Federer in Switzerland before the grass-court season, was in shock at having beaten one of his idols:
"I'm probably in a little bit of disbelief. I have so much respect for Roger and everything he's done for the game. He's a hero of mine. Today he was definitely not at his best but I'll take it."
Next up for Millman is a quarter-final match-up against Novak Djokovic, and Federer said the sixth seed will have a fight on his hands.
"I think (Millman has) got a great backhand... When you attack there in the wrong way, he will punish you every time for it," said the Swiss.
"I think against Novak, he just has to bring it again, try to worry Novak, hope for another hot day maybe."
Reporting via Reuters