Federer responds to Aussie’s rogue scheme
Aussie star John Millman has made a sly request to Australian Open officials to stage his third round blockbuster with Roger Federer on an outside court.
Millman caused a famous upset at the 2018 US Open when he eliminated Federer and now bizarrely stands as the greatest obstacle between the 20-time grand slam champion and a semi-final showdown with Novak Djokovic.
World No. 47 Millman moved through to the third round with a 6-4 7-5 6-3 upset of No. 31 seed Hubert Hurkacz on Wednesday night before Federer ripped Filip Kraijinovic to pieces in a 6-1 6-3 6-1 demolition that lasted just 92 minutes.
Italian Fabio Fognini, who survived a five-set thriller against Aussie Jordan Thompson on Wednesday night, is the only seed in the top 24 left in Federer's quarter of the draw.
With Millman having previously tasted success against Federer at Flushing Meadows, the Aussie star looms as perhaps the 38-year-old's greatest test before the semi-finals.
Millman was full of praise for Federer in his post-match press conference, but also turned up the heat on the Swiss master and tournament officials with a sly request for their match on Friday to be held on Melbourne Arena or Margaret Court Arena - instead of centre court, Rod Laver Arena, where Federer is used to playing at the Australian Open.
Millman had previously asked to be scheduled to play on Melbourne Arena because it is a rowdier stadium where spectators can enter the venue with a standard ground-pass ticket.
When asked if he was serious about requesting the match be played on Melbourne Arena, Millman said: "Of course, but I don't think (tournament director) Craig (Tiley) will take me too serious."
He went on to take a cheeky dig at Federer for not knowing what Melbourne Park is like away from the main stage of Rod Laver Arena and admitted his request was mostly just an attempt to unsettle the six-time Australian Open champion.
"More so just to throw a spanner in the works for Roger," Millman said. "I don't know if he knows the other courts. He hits on the outside ones, but he hasn't played too many. I don't know if he would have played too many matches on the outside ones."
Federer took his own cheeky dig at Millman in his on-court interview with Channel 9 when he suggested Millman failed to care for his personal health and wellbeing during their famous New York encounter in 2018.
Federer became overcome with exhaustion when Millman beat him at the US Open as a result of the extreme heat and humidity.
"I almost passed out when I played out against him in New York. It was so hot," Federer said, recalling the contest.
"He never came to check on me if I passed out actually after the match. I didn't."
Federer laughed off Millman's sly request, declaring he was happy to play on any court.
"I don't choose which court I play on. I don't know if he was joking or if he was serious," Federer said. "You would think a match like this should be played at Rod Laver Arena maybe.
"He knows Margaret Court Arena better, Melbourne Arena. But I haven't thought of it. I figure this was always going to be on Rod Laver Arena.
"I'm ready to go anywhere, whatever it takes."
It was a relatively routine two hour and 28 minute win for Millman against Hurkacz.
He enjoyed a one-break advantage in each of the first two sets before racing out to a 4-0 lead in the third.
But Hurkacz, one of the form players on tour with an Auckland semi-final showing to his name and recent wins over Borna Coric and Dominic Thiem at the ATP Cup, mounted a comeback.
He claimed one break back and had two more break points to get the set back on serve before Millman lifted again.
Rain stopped play briefly but the world No. 47 quickly closed out the match.
"Hubert didn't give up there," Millman said. "It (his third set comeback) probably aged me a couple of years."
Meanwhile, Millman's Aussie compatriot Marc Polmans wasn't able to back up his five-set first round win, going down to Serbian 24th seed Dusan Lajovic. The 22-year-old Victorian wildcard fell to Lajovic 6-2 6-4 6-3.
Earlier, West 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 Kontaviet.
- with AAP