Friday Preview: Federer Goes For Milestone Against Millman
The last time that Roger Federer and John Millman faced off at a Grand Slam, the Aussie battler scored a shocking upset to reach his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final at the 2018 US Open. Federer will look for a different outcome — and his 100th win at the Australian Open — when they meet in third-round action on Friday.
The third-seeded Swiss has been in dangerous form this week, dropping a combined 13 games in his first two rounds. Having avenged his defeat to Millman with a win last year on the grass courts of Halle, the Swiss insisted their New York showdown will have no bearing on what happens in Melbourne.
”I think it was a combination of many things that went wrong for me on that day, plus the opponent was ready and tough as nails,” Federer said. “I almost lost to him in Brisbane, as well, the first time I played against him. He's from this country, so naturally it's also going to be a different intensity. I think this is going to be a good test for me.”
Federer owns a 99-14 record at Melbourne Park and looks to reach triple digits at two Grand Slams. He’s the only man to pick up 100 match wins at a Grand Slam event, having reached a record 101 wins last year at Wimbledon.
But Millman will arrive in arguably the best form of his career. The 30-year-old reached his first ATP 500 final last October in Tokyo (l. to Djokovic) and picked up a Top 20 win against Karen Khachanov last week in Auckland. He’ll have the crowd firmly on his side in Rod Laver Arena and will be sure to pounce on any lapses from Federer.
”Regardless of the score, at the end of the day, I'll go out there and leave it all out there. If lightning strikes twice, I wouldn't say no to it,” Millman said. “You don't play sport to not want these moments. Home slam against someone like Roger, it's pretty cool.”
Second seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic continues his quest for an eighth Melbourne crown against Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka. The Serbian put on a serving clinic in his second-round win against Japanese Tatsuma Ito, dropping just 11 points on his serve and winning 93 per cent (43/46) of his first-serve points.
“He’s very quick, probably one of the quickest players we have on the Tour,” Djokovic said. "You know what his strengths are [and] what his weaknesses are, so hopefully I can execute the game plan.”
Sixth-seeded Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas has a popcorn clash with No. 32 seed Milos Raonic of Canada. The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion (d. Thiem) hasn’t played a point since Monday due to getting a second-round walkover against German Philipp Kohlschreiber. Raonic powered through his first two rounds and has a track record of success in Melbourne, having reached at least the quarter-finals in four of his past five appearances.
Ninth seed Roberto Bautista Agut faces a familiar foe in Croatian Marin Cilic. Although Cilic leads their ATP Head2Head rivalry 4-2, the Spaniard picked up both of his wins at this event. Bautista Agut prevailed in an epic five-setter last year to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final.
Fabio Fognini, the No. 12 seed, will have his stamina tested when he meets No. 22 seed Guido Pella of Argentina. The Italian has weathered two consecutive fifth-set tie-breaks to reach the third round. Pella was 1-5 in Melbourne before this week and looks to continue his breakthrough run here.
Other notable matches on Friday include No. 14 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina taking on No. 24 seed Dusan Lajovic of Serbia, American Tommy Paul facing Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, and an all-American clash between Sam Querrey and Tennys Sandgren.