The all-conquering Roger Federer is hoping it is not too hot for his third-round match up with Australia’s John Millman.
Millman set up another showdown with the the world No.3 after a solid Wednesday night win over 31st seed Hubert Hurkacz 6-4 7-5 6-3, while Federer advanced with a 6-1 6-4 6-1 demolition of Filip Krajinovic.
Millman famously beat Federer at the 2018 US Open and Federer has not forgotten that the Queenslander handled the heat better than he did.
“[He’s] a great guy … I almost passed out when I played out against him in your city, in New York. It was so hot,” Federer said on Channel Nine.
He had no problem. He is from Queensland, so he was like normal stuff. He never came to check on me if I passed out actually after the match.’’
Federer laughed: ” I didn’t. I’m here.
“[He’s an] unbelievably tough opponent. There’s not many guys fitter than him out there. And those are the guys I respect the most, actually, because he gets the most out of the game and I hope it will be a great match with great rallies.”
Millman knows it will be tough to get the better of Federer again.
“I’m definitely going to be the underdog,” Millman said. “No doubt about it, the stars aligned for me one night in Flushing Meadows.
“There’s no doubt I’ll have to bring my A-game and improve upon this performance.”
It was a relatively routine two hour and 28 minute win for Millman who is used to marathon efforts on court. He enjoyed a one-break advantage in each of the first two sets before racing to a 4-0 lead in the third.
Australia’s Jordan Thompson fell after an epic five-set encounter against Fabio Fognini, which ended in the early hours of Thursday morning with the Italian prevailing in a final-set tiebreaker 7-6 6-1 3-6 4-6 7-6.
The Sydneysider had gone two sets down early in the match against the world No.12, but fought back in front of a partisan crowd to stretch the match to four hours.
Earlier, Australia’s Marc Polmans ditched his trademark legionnaires hat for his groundbreaking second round at the Australian Open, but found the going too tough against Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic.
Polmans was never in the hunt against the 24th seed Lajovic, who won 6-2 6-4 6-3.
Earlier, Western Australian wildcard Astra Sharma lost her delayed first-round match.
Making a belated start to the Open following Monday’s washout and Tuesday’s uncompleted schedule, Sharma went down 6-0 6-2 to Estonian 28th seed Anett Kontaveit.
Serena Williams blasted her way into the Australian Open second round and gave an insight into her new life as a working mum.
Williams took one hour and 18 minutes to dispose of Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek 6-2 6-3, despite being frustrated at her unforced errors.
“I think I made so many errors in a row and I just had to battle through that, through my own internal problems,” Williams told Channel Nine in her post-match interview.
“I knew I had to play better. I couldn’t keep making unforced errors like that. I knew that I had to kind of just step up or it was going to be a really long evening for me.
I don’t know. I know I have a great form … I know I have a great backhand. I just had to rely on it a little bit more and not question myself so much, so that kind of helped out.’’
Williams is at Melbourne Park seeking to win her 24th grand slam singles title and says she’s found juggling motherhood, training and work a difficult prospect.
“It’s not easy,” she said. “Some days are definitely harder than others.
“I’m running a full-time company and this morning I’m sending emails about our March designs.
“It’s insane, but it is fun. It is a lot of work. You know, being a mum is incredibly special to me.
“It is the best thing I have done. I try to – I’m a real hands-on mum. Like, I really try to do everything with her, you know.
“We have been together every day of her life, which is a little bit much. I need to, at some point, spend 24 hours away, but I haven’t been able to manage it yet.”
She also had a laugh about her pre-season training regime, which featured some neat dance moves with fellow American Coco Gauff.
Bulgarian 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov has been bundled out the Open after an upset five-set loss to Tommy Paul from the United States.
Paul jumped Dimitrov to win the first two sets and then had to fight off a determined fightback to win the final set in a 10-3 tiebreak, 6-4 7-6 3-6 6-7 7-6.
Greek fans ejected in crackdown on disruptive behaviour
It has been a growing trend in tennis that over-the-top fans have brought a football final atmosphere to the courts, although it appears officials are finally saying “enough”.
Up to 20 Greek supporters were ejected for disruptive behaviour when supporting their nation’s No.1 women’s player Maria Sakkari in her win on court eight against Japanese Nao Hibino.
“The only thing that they were yelling was ‘break, break, break’ but even Australians do it, Israelis do it, everyone does it,” Sakkai said.
On Monday Greece’s top men’s player Stefanos Tsitsipas had welcomed the positive support but said fans needed to be more respectful of the opposition and stop acting like football fans.
“That’s all. Nothing else. They can do what they’re doing, but probably with more respect,” he said.
Quotable quote …
‘‘I don’t think anyone could care less if an Aussie wins it or not. First and foremost, it’s about the safety and the wellbeing of Aussies all across the nation, of wildlife, everything. So I’d prioritise the safety and kind of rebuilding kind of parts of our nation that have been destroyed over a tennis match any day of the week.’’
– Ash Barty puts the Open into perspective
The joker gets a laugh
A relaxed Novak Djokovic made short work of Japan’s Tatsuma Ito 6-1 6-4 6-2 on Wednesday, and then also made short work of an Italian journalist in the media centre.
Coming up on Thursday …
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) v Gilles Simon (FRA)
The 23rd seed has faced the French veteran just once before, winning 6-3 7-6 in Washington last year. Going on form, Kyrgios should feel confident in being able to book a third-round showdown with either 16th seed Karen Khachanov or Swede Mikael Ymer.
Priscilla Hon (AUS) v Angelique Kerber (GER)
Former world No.1 Kerber might have been battling injury concerns in the lead-up to the first slam of the year, but the 2016 Australian Open winner breezed past Italian Elisabetta Cocciaretto 6-2 6-2 in the first round. Whatever happens, Hon has already equalled her best result at a major.
Garbine Muguruza (ESP) v Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS)
She might be unseeded, but Muguruza presents a fierce challenge as a two-time slam winner. Muguruza started poorly in her first-round clash with American Shelby Rogers, before winning 0-6 6-1 6-0. Tomljanovic has played Muguruza twice before, winning their 2014 clash in Miami.
Jaume Munar (ESP) v Alexei Popyrin (AUS)
Popyrin progressed to the second round after his childhood hero Jo-Wilfried Tsonga pulled out injured during the third set of their match. The world No.96 will battle another young star on the rise in Munar, who defeated Frenchman Hugo Gaston in four sets on Tuesday.
Alex Bolt (AUS) v Dominic Thiem (AUT)
Bolt will have to produce an almighty boilover and knock out fifth seed Thiem. Bolt produced a stirring first-round comeback to topple world No.42 Albert Ramos Vinolas in five sets. Comparatively, Thiem breezed past Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in straight sets.