John Millman is preparing for a “ding dong” battle with Alexander Zverev after throwing down the challenge to the French Open fifth seed.
Queenslander Millman admits drawing the big-serving German in the first round was not part of the script.
But after “living off scraps” playing club tennis in Europe straight out of school, last year’s surprise US Open quarter-finalist says he finally feels comfortable at the top.
The pair will likely play on Tuesday, given Zverev has snapped a form slump of sorts to progress to Saturday’s final in Geneva.
Zverev is seven years Millman’s junior, but boasts about $14 million more in career prize money and a quarter-final appearance in France last year.
But, importantly, that is the top-five regular’s only significant grand slam run in a young career that is yet to master best-of-five set tennis.
Millman, who relishes the grind of a French Open and can rattle off the surrounding suburbs and landmarks like a local, is busy fine-tuning his ambush.
“My first thought when I see clay is that it’s going to be physical out there,” he told AAP.
“It’s a test of your endurance and your mental strength; it’s a fun place.
“The longer I can extend the match – turn it into a bit of a ding dong battle – the better my chances.”
Millman’s Energizer Bunny approach saw him mow down Roger Federer in New York last year, while he says he has learnt to be more proactive when an opportunity presents against the sport’s elite.
That style should also suit the slower red dirt of Paris, but Millman is yet to win a match in three main draw Roland Garros starts.
Millman, 29, wouldn’t poke the bear when asked for his thoughts on Zverev’s staying power in majors, but insists he’s quietly confident.
“It’s not the most ideal scenario but I’m feeling not too bad,” he said.
“I wasted a bit of time not quite believing I was good enough, but I’ve done my apprenticeship and feel comfortable that this (grand slams) is my workplace now.
“Now, well and truly, I feel like if I have a good day I can beat a lot of players.”