'Is that legal': John Millman at centre of bizarre ball-tampering furore

Riley Morgan
Sports Reporter

Todd Woodbridge has come to the defence of John Millman after the Aussie was accused of ball tampering in his five-set thriller loss to Roger Federer.

Millman lost a super tiebreak to the Swiss Maestro on Rod Laver Arena as the clock pushed nearly 1am, which left the Aussie devastated.

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But the former coach of Maria Sharapova, Sven Groeneveld, suggested Millman was ball-tampering as he wiped the ball on his sweaty clothes.

“Millman applying the old trick in speeding up the first serve by rolling the ball on his (I assume) wet shirt before he serves?” he wrote on Twitter.

“Is that legal in tennis I know it’s not in other ball sports like cricket and baseball? Do we have a rule in tennis?”

Doubles great Todd Woodbridge immediately replied claiming: “What happens when you put it in the pocket of your wet shorts?”

Woodbridge again defended Millman after the claims suggesting it was all part of his routine and there was no cheating going on.

"I'm flabbergasted that anyone would suggest John Millman is cheating," Woodbridge told the Wide World of Sports.

"Last night by the time they finished I think it was around 17 degrees, so they weren't sweating profusely. What's the difference between that and players in humid conditions who are sweating profusely put a ball in their pocket?

"Having a wet ball compared to a dry ball isn't significantly slowing the ball down anyway. A new ball that is drier is faster and bouncier and more advantageous off a first serve.”

The USTA rules deem rubbing the ball to add water to it illegal, but the ITF does not deem it illegal.

John Millman was accused of ball-tampering against Roger Federer. (Images: Getty Images/Twitter)

Millman falls short

Until practically the final point on Rod Laver Arena it looked like lightning might strike twice.

Millman had compared his odds of upsetting Federer at a grand slam for a second time to that of the rare natural phenomenon.

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But a repeat of his 2018 US Open upset of the 20-time major champion appeared in the making during their third-round clash at Melbourne Park until Federer finally prevailed 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 4-6 7-6 (10-8).

In a pulsating encounter the six-time champion had to call on all his fighting qualities, trailing the Australian 4-8 in their deciding super tiebreak, which is first to 10.

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