Tennis fans fume at John Millman 'disgrace' after Australian Open farewell ruined

The Aussie veteran was hoping to win his way into the main draw at the Australian Open through the qualifying tournament.

John Millman, pictured here after his loss in Australian Open qualifying.
John Millman choked back tears after playing the final match of his tennis career in Australian Open qualifying. Image: Twitter

Tennis fans are once again condemning the decision not to award John Millman a wildcard for the Australian Open after the Aussie veteran's career ended in a loss in qualifying on Thursday. Last week, Australian Open officials made the controversial call not to hand the 34-year-old Millman direct entry into his home grand slam for what would have been the final tournament of his career.

He was instead forced to go through qualifying if he wanted one final farewell at the Australian Open in 2024, but a loss on Thursday ruined that dream. Millman went down 6-4 6-3 to Alex Molcan of Slovakia in the second round of qualifying at Melbourne Park - marking the final match of his brilliant career.

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Millman, who famously beat Roger Federer at the US Open in 2018, choked back tears as he thanked fans for their support. The 34-year-old's wife and parents were in attendance and highly emotional as he addressed the crowd one final time.

"I won my first best-of-five match on this court (Court 3) against Gilles Muller," he said. "That one always sticks with me. Just any time the crowd lifted me, which happened a lot, I needed that help.

"I was never the biggest guy or the biggest hitter. I needed every bit of energy and they came in their droves always, even in qualifying. It might not seem like much to bow out in qualifying, but it means a lot."

Millman became the first Australian player to beat Federer at a grand slam since Pat Rafter took down the Swiss legend at the French Open in 1999. On that occasion Federer was still a teenager and making his debut at grand slam level.

Millman came agonisingly close to repeating the feat at the Australian Open in 2020, losing in five sets despite holding an 8-4 in the deciding super-tiebreaker. "I would have loved to reverse it and actually beaten him here at the Australian Open when I lost in five," he said on Thurday.

"But there's been plenty of highs. That's probably not the highlight of my career. Any time I could dress up in the green and gold in the Davis Cup in particular and Olympic Games, those are the moments that I really enjoyed, and they're the ones that will probably stick with me."

The self-proclaimed "battler" loved having the honour of representing his country whenever he got the opportunity. In his first appearance at the Olympics at Rio de Janeiro in 2016, Millman became the first player in Games history to win a singles match 6-0 6-0 - against Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania.

John Millman, pictured here in action against Alex Molan in Australian Open qualifying.
John Millman in action against Alex Molan in Australian Open qualifying. (Photo by Chris Putnam/Future Publishing via Getty Images) (Future Publishing via Getty Imag)

Tennis fans rage over John Millman's Australian Open snub

He reached a career-high singles ranking of World No.33 in October 2018, won his one and only ATP singles title in Kazakhstan in 2020, and represented Australia in five Davis Cup ties. He made the third round of the Australian Open and Wimbledon twice each.

"I wasn't good enough to win it easy," he said about his style. "I always had to leave it out there and hopefully I represented that each time I came on court. The Aussies got behind me because I was a bit of a battler."

He also admitted "there were a lot of times where I didn't think that would be possible" in regards to the fact he had such a long career despite multiple surgeries. "I'm very grateful for all the support. I'm grateful for all the sacrifices especially that my family's made - and friends," he said.

"I'll go with my head held high that I gave it everything and the body kind of let me down towards the end of my career. In a way, I'm happy that was the case because that was what was going to beat me. Not anything else. That's what would make me stop, and it ended up being true."

Tennis fans and commentators flocked to social media to express their heartbreak for Millman. Many were also quick to slam the decision not to award him a wildcard once again.

with AAP

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