Roger Federer showed his respect for John Millman ahead of their US Open fourth-round clash at Flushing Meadows.
The Swiss Maestro spoke about the Aussie’s character and how he invited him to a number of practice sessions ahead of their match on Tuesday (AEST).
“I’m a big fan of John. Maybe not that many people know him but he’s a real hard-working guy out there and those are the guys who have all the respect from us top players in the locker room,” Federer said.
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“He’s just come to Switzerland to train with me before the grass-court season so we know each other quite well, a super friendly guy, and I’m very happy for him that he’s gotten so far.
“But now I’ll try to stop him, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Not too many players get invited to Federer’s inner sanctum like that.
The 20-time grand slam winner has long been an admirer of the Australian, who had had to battle back from three crushing surgeries and the depths of despair to earn his big-stage opportunity in New York.
Millman was grateful for the invite.
“Any opportunity to hit with the great man, I would take. I would pick up balls for him back then,” the 29-year-old said ahead of Monday’s showdown.
“I hit with him also a couple of times between days at the Australian Open. He has always been someone I look up to.”
But Millman knows there’s no friends on court when playing for a US Open quarter-final berth.
“I am going to try to be as competitive as possible and really battle out there and not play anyone’s reputation,” he said.
“I am not about that. I have put myself in this position and it is because I am playing some decent tennis right now and I plan to really give my best showing.”
Millman’s quiet confidence stems, not just from breaking into the world’s top 50 after a career-best season, but also a near miss against the great Swiss in Brisbane three years ago.
The Queenslander had Federer on the ropes before letting slip the chance to claim the biggest scalp of his career in front of friends and family.
A huge underdog, Millman is nevertheless intent on not letting his latest opportunity slip by without an almighty fight.
“I’m really looking forward to making the most of a second week at a grand slam,” he said.