Djokovic heaps praise on 'great fighter' Millman

Heather Diaz
September 10, 2018

Hungry for more, John Millman is eyeing an Australian Open seeding after his US Open odyssey ended with a sapping quarter-final loss to Novak Djokovic.

The Serbian ace took the opening set 6-3.

Federer, who is ranked No. 2, seemed to struggle all night in the heat and humidity at Arthur Ashe Stadium, losing in a fourth-round upset to John Millman an Australian ranked 55th.

Millman was so sweaty that he had got special permission to change at 2-2 in the second set of his quarterfinal against Djokovic. This is her first career Grand Slam semifinal in what's been a year of firsts for her so far.

When Millman apologized for leaving the court at that juncture, Djokovic replied, "I'm fine to have a little rest", then sat down on his sideline bench without a shirt on and cooled off.

Djokovic broke early to take a 3-1 leave in the third set but a lapse in concentration allowed Millman to draw level.

Conditions were not as hot or humid as they had been on Monday or Tuesday but still uncomfortable and Djokovic again looked in distress and asked the doctor for a nasal spray.

Like his match against Federer, Millman fell behind early against Djokovic.

Both players were clearly struggling in the extreme heat and Djokovic admitted after that this has been the toughest US Open in the last decade.

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It's a good point and something the authorities at Flushing Meadows need to address before next year, but having backed Djokovic at [3.8] before the tournament began it also sent all the right messages. "It's literally after two games you're soaking", he said.

Djokovic ensured there was a somewhat more routine feel to proceedings on this occasion, although Millman certainly made the 13-time grand slam champion work hard for a 6-3 6-4 6-4 victory that took two hours, 48 minutes on another humid NY night. It feels like a sauna.

And as against Federer, that was enough to lose the first set after Djokovic benefited from a lucky net chord and then fought off a break point in the final game to serve the set out.

Next up is Japan's Kei Nishikori and Djokovic goes into that with a 14-2 head-to-head record, their most recent meeting being in Wimbledon's quarter-finals. It's tricky, but, you know, I gave it a crack'.

"Especially in the end I really focus on every point", he said but added: "I wish I don't go to five sets every time".

There were other issues for him, too, including in the third set when, ahead by a break, he was called by the chair umpire for allowing the 25-second serve clock, making its Grand Slam debut at this tournament, to run out on back-to-back points.

Djokovic has now won all 11 of his quarterfinal matches in NY. Naomi Osaka won her quarterfinal in the match that preceded Nishikori's.

'Really, if I could have just jagged a set, I think, you know, I could have been in there.

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