John Millman should have had a massive advantage over Roger Federer on Friday night - a vocal home crowd.
While the Australian world no.47 certainly did have the crowd on his side, when you’re up against a universally popular champion in Federer there’s always a chance the cheers will be split.
It was exactly that situation Millman found himself in on Friday night - even as he took one of the greats of modern tennis to five sets, he was still hearing from hecklers in the crowd backing the Swiss maestro.
Many Aussie fans took to social media during the match to complain about the crowd not giving their local hope enough support, even labelling the crowd ‘a disgrace’.
An Aust crowd backing Federer over Millman is a shame this tournament will never quite get over #AusOpen— Daniel Brettig (@danbrettig) January 24, 2020
This Rod Laver crowd needs to give itself an uppercut. This is an Aussie on the verge of beating one of the greatest tennis players in history. Get behind Millman. #AUSOpen20— Joel Dry (@JoelDry7) January 24, 2020
Gutted for Millman! He gave it his all and fell just short. Embarrassed by that crowd tonight. I will never comprehend how you can cheer much louder for a guy from another country regardless of how good he is. Well done Fed but wowee,— brad davidson (@braddavo) January 24, 2020
Millman, great effort 🙁
Absolute disgrace that an Aussie crowd is cheering Federer over Millman. #AusOpen— Jake Bozinovski 🐝⚫️⚪️ (@TheRealBozza1) January 24, 2020
Can’t believe I’m hearing commentators speaking about the “split” crowd in Federer VS Millman. I was there. It was 90/10 in favor of Federer. Feel for Millman here.— Alex Theodoridis (@AlexTheodorid1s) January 24, 2020
Well done Roger, would have been hard to see you lose.. But why wasn’t the crowd support behind Millman. An Aussie and the loudest cheers were coming when Fed got in front 🤦🏻♂️ Great battle! #AusOpen #Millman #Federer #AustralianOpen— Tim Robinson (@timrobinsonfox) January 24, 2020
Absolute joke by the Australian crowd there. I get the Federer bandwagon, but that doesn’t sit well with me at all. Get behind our own, an underdog at that, who put in a colossal shift over four hours. Great effort by Millman, so unlucky in the end #AusOpen— Jack Alfonso (@jackalfonso98) January 24, 2020
That was one of the absolute all-time classics between Federer and Millman. Roger too good in the end but couldn’t be any prouder of Millman tonight as an Australian. Who knows maybe if the Rod Laver Arena crowd supported the AUSSIE he may have gotten over the line. #AusOpen— Jack Powell (@JackPowell43) January 24, 2020
Millman accepts crowd’s love of Federer
Even Millman himself admitted he knew he wouldn’t have been able to expect the same kind of vocal support an Australian player would usually get, simply due to Federer’s standing an international popularity.
“This is the one month that you earmark on the calendar that you know you’ll have the home support,” Millman told reporters on Thursday.
“However, against Roger, that’s probably the one time where I’m not actually too sure whether I do have the support because he’s loved universally and wherever I play him, he’s got a fair bit of support.”
Speaking after the match on Friday, Millman thanked Aussie fans for staying back until after 1am to see the end of the marathon showdown.
The vanquished world no.47 still got a cheeky barb in about the level of support Federer had at Melbourne Park.
“I love the support,” Millman said.
“Roger probably had a little bit more tonight.
“There was a guy trying to heckle me, calling me a few things, and then I called him something back.
“I love playing in Australia. We don’t get to do it too much; puts us at a real disadvantage throughout the year that we don’t get to play too much in Australia.
“I think Australians are at a disadvantage because of that. I try to make the most of it when I’m back here.
“Very grateful that everyone stayed and watched the battle and, you know, some of them got behind me.”