John Millman is prepared to do anything to get an edge over Roger Federer, and that includes cheekily requesting their crunch Australian Open third round match is played on a court other than Rod Laver Arena.
Befitting his status, the Swiss master, making a 21st appearance at Melbourne Park, almost always plays on the centre court where he has won six titles, and Millman is keen to disrupt his momentum.
“More so just to throw a spanner in the works for Roger,” said the Australian, who memorably beat Federer over four gruelling sets at the US Open in 2018. “I don’t know if he knows the other courts. He hits on the outside ones, but he hasn’t played too many. I don’t know if he would have played too many matches on the outside ones.”
Federer insisted he’ll play the third-round match wherever he’s told to. “Look, I don’t choose which court I play on,” said the 38-year-old. “You would think a match like this should be played at Rod Laver Arena maybe. He knows Margaret Court Arena better, Melbourne Arena. But I haven’t thought of it. I figure this was always going to be on Rod Laver Arena. I’m ready to go anywhere, whatever it takes.”
Millman, who admitted organisers would almost certainly not take his request seriously, said he felt courts other than Rod Laver had better crowd support for him.
“Obviously the matches I played (so far), probably two really special courts, Show Court 3 and Melbourne Arena, are notorious for the crowd support you get there, the vocal Aussies,” he said.
“I very much consider myself, and I think the people who know me, know that I’m just your typical Aussie bloke. So I’m one of the people. The people get the ground passes and the people go to those courts.”
Millman, whose defeat of Federer at Flushing Meadow was the biggest of his career, has never gone beyond the Australian Open third round.
In contrast, Federer has made the semi-finals or better 14 times. But he remains wary of the Australian after his US Open upset, where he struggled in the hot conditions.
“I think it was a combination of many things that went wrong for me on that day, plus the opponent was ready and tough as nails,” he said of Millman. “I tried everything in the match itself. It was just not meant to be that day. I hit the wall.”