John Millman's classy tribute to 'hero' Roger Federer

Aussie tennis player John Millman showed true class after the epic US Open upset against Roger Federer with a wonderful tribute to his tennis “hero.”

The unseeded Australian turned the New York showpiece upside down with a colossal fourth-round win over the 20-times grand slam champion.

Millman wrote himself into Australian tennis folklore with one of the biggest upsets in the history of the grand slam tournament.

In a life-changing performance, Millman left Federer – and fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium – shellshocked with a 3-6 7-5 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-3) comeback victory to book a quarter-final date with another of tennis’s all-time greats, Novak Djokovic.

“I’m probably in a little bit of disbelief,” Millman said after smashing Federer’s 40-from-40 record against non-top 50-ranked rivals at the US Open.

Even Millman was left stunned by his incredible US Open feat. Pic: Getty
Even Millman was left stunned by his incredible US Open feat. Pic: Getty

“I have so much respect for Roger and everything he’s done for the game. He’s been a hero of mine and today he was definitely not at his best but I’ll take it.”

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While few gave the Brisbane baseliner a chance, Federer had full respect for Millman, having invited him to Switzerland before Wimbledon this year to prepare for the grass-court season.

But he could not have expected Millman to maintain such a high level for more than three and a half hours.

Not since Pat Rafter handed a tantrum-throwing Federer a tennis lesson on the then-18-year-old’s grand slam debut at Roland Garros in 1999 had an Australian conquered the great Swiss at a major.

Since then, nine Australians – including Nick Kyrgios only two days ago, Mark Philippoussis in the 2003 Wimbledon final and Lleyton Hewitt seven times – had fallen prey to Federer in 20 straight grand slam matches over almost 20 years.

But on the very same court on which Federer destroyed Hewitt 6-0 7-6 6-0 in the 2004 US Open final, Millman stared down the greatest player of the professional era to send the world No.2 crashing to his earliest grand slam defeat in almost four years.

In addition to earning a crack at Djokovic on Wednesday for an improbable place in the semi-finals, Millman is guaranteed a $US475,000 ($660,000) pay day and a rankings rise to No.37 in the world.

The upset for the ages looked remote when Federer broke Millman – playing his his first fourth-round match at a slam at age 29 – in the second game of the match en route to taking the opening set in routine fashion.

Millman’s win over Federer is being touted as one of the greatest upsets in grand slam history. Pic: Getty
Millman’s win over Federer is being touted as one of the greatest upsets in grand slam history. Pic: Getty

“I felt like a bit of a deer in headlights to begin with, to be honest with you,” Millman said.

“The feet weren’t moving. Roger had it on a string, he was manipulating me around the court.

“I got out of a tough second set and really found my feet and started to be a bit more aggressive.

“I started to serve really well and probably capitalised a little bit on Roger having an off service day.”

Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact all this comes after Millman feared his career was over following two shoulder surgeries and then a groin operation last year.

Should he beat Djokovic, he will leapfrog Kyrgios to become Australia’s new No.1.

The winner of the Djokovic-Millman quarter-final will play seventh-seeded 2014 champion Marin Cilic or Japanese star Kei Nishikori for a spot in Sunday’s title match.

With AAP