Sport Tennis Nine things you need to know about John Millman
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Nine things you need to know about John Millman

John Millman Roger Federer
John Millman consoles his friend Roger Federer after beating him in the US Open on September 3. Photo: Getty
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2018 has been John Millman’s year. After turning pro in 2006, he made his first ATP final in Budapest in April, then took two challenger titles by beating compatriots Nick Kyrgios in Kyoto, Japan, and Bernard Tomic in Aix en Provence, France.

In July, he finally cracked the world top 50 when his ranking soared to a career-high 49. And on Monday (US time) he had a stunning win over world No.2 Roger Federer in the round of 16 at the US Open.

Now the 29-year-old Queenslander – a Rio Olympian and big fan of The Killers – has booked a spot in the quarter-finals in New York. For armchair fans wanting to cheer on his next match, here’s a quick guide to our newest giant killer.

He travels light

While other players roll into tournaments with a cast of thousands, Millman prefers to keep things tight, with just his immediate family as his crew. “It’s why I play tennis,” he told ATPWorldTour.com in July. “So my friends and family can enjoy the experience.”

His mother Shona, a primary school PE teacher, was in the stands when Millman hoisted the silverware in Aix en Provence and he paid tribute to her: “Love you Mum.”

The Great Underpant Dash

At Wimbledon this year, Millman was preparing for his second-round match when told his bright underwear contravened the All England Club’s all-white dress code.

The solution? His PE teacher father Ron – known as ‘The Fox’ in tennis circles – raced to a local shop to snatch some more appropriate smalls.

“The Fox delivered. Good man,” Millman said.

His career record is like a game of Snakes and Ladders

After 12 years on the circuit, baseline slogger Millman’s CV has been a “rollercoaster of rankings,” noted his ‘Getting to Know You’ biography on the official US Open website.

The reason? Three surgeries including a 2013 shoulder reconstruction and 2017 groin surgery. One year he rises to a new career-high ranking, the next he succumbs to injury and slips back.

“It hasn’t come that easy. I feel like I do all the right things, but sometimes it’s not meant to be with my body,” said Millman, who at one point gave up his day job and worked in an office while recuperating.

That time things turned dangerous in Thailand

In November 2017, there were floods when he won a tournament in Thailand’s Hua Hin.

“The official transport had no seat belts, no nothing. It was an open-air van and, deadset, this thing was just about floating down the highway while we were on it,” he wrote on website PlayersVoice in January.

“I can’t imagine Feds or Rafa doing that.”

Millman found more relaxing Thai water during a post-tournament getaway.

He doesn’t mind being called an ‘Aussie battler’

He used to hate it – and don’t even start him on ‘journeyman’.

But, he said early this year, he’s now come to “respect” the description “because I think it means that I’ve handled adversity and I’ve come out the other side of it.”

One match he’ll never forget

The first time he played a match on Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne was in 2016 against countryman Bernard Tomic.

Why was it so special? “It’s named after one of our most iconic players, and a Queenslander, and that’s very important for me,” Millman said.

He’s not afraid to say what he thinks

Millman got political before and after last month’s vote on changes to the Davis Cup format, hitting Twitter to speak his mind.

Millman Twitter screen shot

He weighed in again on social media on Peter Dutton’s attempted Liberal Party leadership coup:

He got into tennis by default

Growing up the only son among Ron and Shona’s five children, John had 1.2 ha of property outside Brisbane to roam. Problem was, the only level part was the tennis court.

Keen to beat his three older sisters, John took up lessons. “From a very early age, John was extremely competitive and a very poor loser,” Shona has said. “He soon learned what was acceptable.”

Secret weapon training partner

Before the start of the grass court season, Millman was invited to train in Switzerland by his “hero”, the vanquished Federer. “I’m a big fan of John,” said Federer. “Now we know each other quite well, a super friendly guy.”

Millman was thrilled to take Federer up on his offer: “Any opportunity to hit with the great man, I would take. I would pick up balls for him,” he said before their US Open showdown.

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