Monday, September 3, 2018

Millman, who has starred in NorCal, shocks Federer

Australian John Millman, shown en route to the title in the 2015
Aptos (Calif.) Challenger, stunned Roger Federer in four sets to-
night in the fourth round of the U.S. Open. Photo by Paul Bauman
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   Roger Federer appeared to be on his way to a routine victory over an unseeded opponent.
   But John Millman had other ideas.
   In what ESPN commentator Patrick McEnroe called "one of the biggest upsets in tennis history," the 55th-ranked Millman defeated the second-seeded Federer 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (3) tonight in the fourth round of the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Federer, who has won a record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, had two set points on his serve for a two-sets-to-none lead. 
   Millman, a 29-year-old Australian who trained with Federer for this year's grass-court season, was playing in the fourth round of a major for the first time. He had been 0-10 against top-10 players.
   "I'm probably in a little bit of disbelief," Millman said in an on-court interview after the three-hour, 34-minute battle at Arthur Ashe Stadium that ended shortly before 1 a.m. (EDT) Tuesday. "I have so much respect for Roger and what he's done for the game. He's been a hero of mine. He definitely was not at his best tonight ... but I'll take it."
   Federer committed 10 double faults, converted only 49 percent of his first serves and had 77 unforced errors against 65 winners.
   Both players' shirts were drenched in the 83 percent humidity, but the conditions hurt the 37-year-old Federer more. A retractable roof over the stadium was completed two years ago.
   "I just thought it was very hot tonight," Federer said after losing to an unseeded player in the U.S. Open for the first time. "(It) was just one of those nights where I guess I felt I couldn't get air. There was no circulation at all. For some reason, I just struggled in the conditions tonight. It's one of the first times it's happened to me. John dealt with it better than me. He comes from one of most humid places on earth, Brisbane."
   Millman, meanwhile, played brilliantly after overcoming his nerves.
   "I felt like a deer in the headlights to begin with," said Millman, who finished with eight aces, only one double fault, 47 winners and 28 unforced errors. "My feet were not moving, and Roger was moving me around the court. Then I found my feet, and I started to be more aggressive. I started serving really well and capitalized on Roger having an off-serving day."
   Millman, a fitness fanatic and consummate professional who has been hampered by injuries (especially shoulder) during his career, has won two Northern California Challengers (Sacramento in 2010 and Aptos in 2015) and reached the final of another (Tiburon in 2014).
   Millman will add at least $475,000 (not counting $8,250 for losing in the first round of men's doubles) to his career earnings of $1,853,718. He will take on No. 6 seed and two-time U.S. Open champion Novak Djokovic, a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 winner over Joao Sousa of Portugal, on Wednesday.
   Djokovic routed Millman 6-2, 6-1 in 65 minutes on grass at Queen's Club in London in June in their only previous meeting. In his next tournament, Djokovic won Wimbledon for the fourth time.
   In another men's quarterfinal at Flushing Meadows, No. 7 seed Marin Cilic will meet No. 21 Kei Nishikori in a rematch of the 2014 U.S. Open final. Cilic, the champion four years ago with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory, and Nishikori advanced with straight-set victories.
   The 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) Nishikori leads the head-to-head series 7-4, but the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Cilic has won three of the last four encounters.
   In the women's draw, two former champions of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, one in singles and one in doubles, will meet in the quarterfinals.
   No. 14 Madison Keys, who won the Bank of the West singles title and reached the U.S. Open final last year, dismissed No. 29 Dominika Cibulkova, the 2013 Stanford singles champion, 6-1, 6-3.
   And No. 30 Carla Suarez Navarro, who took the 2014 Stanford doubles crown with fellow Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, eliminated No. 22 Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-3.
   Suarez Navarro was playing on her 30th birthday. Sharapova, 31, has won five major singles titles, including a career Grand Slam.
   The 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) Keys is 3-0 against the 5-foot-4 (1.62-meter) Suarez Navarro. Each match has been on hardcourts or grass and gone to three sets.
   Also in the bottom half of the women's draw, No. 20 seed Naomi Osaka of Japan will play unseeded Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine in the first major quarterfinal for both players.
   Osaka outlasted No. 26 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in a matchup of 20-year-olds. Tsurenko, 29, topped Marketa Vondrousova, a 19-year-old left-hander from the Czech Republic, 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-2. Tsurenko knocked off No. 2 seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-2 in the second round.
   Osaka beat Tsurenko 6-4, 6-3 in the semifinals of a $25,000 hardcourt tournament in Irapuato, Mexico, in 2014 in their only previous encounter.
   Meanwhile, No. 3 seeds Mike Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98) and Jack Sock of the United States advanced to the men's doubles quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over No. 16 Dominic Inglot of Great Britain and Franko Skugor of Croatia.
   In the first round of junior singles, two boys from the Sacramento area defeated French players, but two girls from the San Francisco Bay Area lost to Ukrainian qualifiers.
   Jenson Brooksby, 17, of Carmichael defeated qualifier Valentin Royer 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, and Keenan Mayo, 18, from Roseville beat Clement Tabur 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.
   Brooksby, who won the USTA Boys 18 National Championships last month, will play Jonas Forejtek of the Czech Republic. Forejtek surprised No. 8 seed Naoki Tajima of Japan 6-1, 6-3.
   Mayo will face No. 4 seed Nicolas Mejia, a Colombian who defeated Eliot Spizzirri of Greenwich, Conn., 7-6 (2), 6-2.
   Brooksby plans to enroll at Texas Christian in the fall of 2019 or in January 2020, and Mayo is headed to Illinois.
   On the girls side, Daria Snigur ousted No. 15 seed and 2017 quarterfinalist Katie Volynets, 16, from Walnut Creek, 6-3, 6-4. Also, Dasha Lopatetskaya downed Connie Ma, 15, of Dublin 7-5, 6-0.

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