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There is no such scene to be observed every day: even before the start of the night session, Roger Federer played in the Rod Laver Arena - among other things with his third-round opponent John Millman and with the ex-professionals Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin.
The Swiss obviously took this relaxed atmosphere into the later match - but only at the beginning. Federer initially lacked the necessary aggressiveness, but then moved on to the round of 16 after five hard-fought sets full of crazy turns with 4: 6, 7: 6 (2), 6: 4, 4: 6, 7: 6 (8) ,
After Federer almost flew over his opponents in the first two rounds (smooth victories against Steve Johnson and Filip Krajinovic), it was likely that he would have a much harder time in his third round match - for three reasons.
First: Millman is a local hero and therefore has the Australian fans behind him - even if no player should hope for a pure home game against crowd favorite Federer. Second: The Australian was able to teach the "Maestro" a surprising defeat at the 2018 US Open. Third: According to Boris Becker, Federer does not really like the way the 30-year-old plays. According to the Eurosport expert, Millman is well on foot and has good returns. "Federer has to work out every point, it goes to the physique. The longer the match, the better for the Australian," said Becker before the top match of the night session in the sold-out Rod Laver Arena.
Hardly any speed changes and too many Unforced Errors at Federer
The fact that there would actually be no third Federer march in a row was shown in the first sentence, in which the favorite produced a smorgasbord of mistakes. 14 Unforced Errors (nine of them on the forehand alone) and two serve losses were too much for the world ranking list 47. to keep at bay.
After half an hour, Millman made the important set win perfect because he could read Federer's game well. The six-time Melbourne champion varied far too rarely and did without the urgently needed changes of pace.
Second and third sentences: The "Maestro" finds a remedy
Only in the course of the second sentence Federer found a new and, above all, more effective means, acted more aggressively and left his previous scheme behind. And more importantly, he was there when it mattered - in the tie-break. In the third round, too, the tennis fans saw a duel that was largely at eye level. Millman continued to play forcefully, perhaps a bit too aggressively in crucial phases.
At 4: 5, he experienced a change of emotions. With a double mistake, the Australian gave his opponent a breakball, which he then knew to "fend off" with an ace. In the end, the underdog gave up his serve game - and thus the set - because he overpowered a little on a backhand.
Now Federer had the advantage on the tableau for the first time. However, he missed the opportunity to break away. The reason: The game of number three in the world reminded in the fourth set of the Federer of the first round. He varied too little, Millman kept throwing the ball into the forehand. The result was a break to 3: 4 and ultimately the loss of the set.
Fifth sentence: Millman at an advantage - Federer in the style of a champion
And it didn't get any better for the Swiss fans. On the contrary: The 38-year-old gave up his advantage early in the crucial fifth set - with a loss to Millman 2-1. But the "Maestro" would not be the "Maestro" if it did not show comeback qualities on a mixed day. Roger got the re-break and later made his 100th win at the Australian Open perfect. Insanity: In the match tie-break he turned a 4: 8 with the help of six (!) Points in a row into a 10: 8 success.
Side note: The Swiss now has the most five-set matches in Melbourne again after Andreas Seppi set this Federer record yesterday with his 14th fifth set.
(Image © imago images / AAP)
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