All New York fans were eager to witness, on Wednesday, the Arthur Ashe of Flushing Meadows, the 47th professional duel between the Swiss Roger Federer, second in the world, and the Serbian Novak Djokovic, exnúmero one, if both, came to the quarterfinals of the United States Open.
In the morning session Djokovic fulfilled the predictions by winning for the eleventh consecutive time be among the eight best of the last Grand Slam tournament of the season to win in three sets (6-3, 6-4 and 6-3) to the Portuguese Joao Sousa, number 68 of the world.
But it was missing that Federer, five times winner of the US Open consecutively from 2003 to 2008, did the same with a 29-year veteran like the Australian John Millman, whom he had faced only once, in 2015, in Brisbane and he had won by 4-6, 6-4 and 6-3.
Everything indicated that Federer would have a triumphant night under the photos of the center court Arthur Ashe and his 37 years again secure another victory and reach another historic appointment with Djokovic.
But the unexpected happened. After starting the match with some consistency in his tennis, which allowed him to win the first round, Federer became the worst version he had ever seen in the last Grand Slam tournament, where he made history.
Federer served poorly, closed the decisive goals worse and committed no less than 76 unforced errors for after three hours and 34 minutes to be defeated by 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7) and 7-6 (3) before Millman, who achieved for the first time, in the four participations that he has had at the US Open, reach the quarterfinals, his best classification in a Grand Slam.
The victory serves to dispute his second duel against Djokovic, who this year won by 6-2 and 6-1 in the second round of the Queen’s tournament, which was played on grass.
While Federer was leaving Flushing Meadows eliminated for the first time in his legendary career by an opponent ranked outside the top 50 in the world.
The first time Federer lost to a player who was not in the top 50 in a Grand Slam tournament was against Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky at Wimbledon in 2013.
“To begin with, I felt like a deer in the headlights of a car: Roger (Federer) had me on the ropes, he was dominating me,” said Millman at the end of his second duel against Federer who now have a 1-1 draw. series. “But I came out of a very competitive second set and I realized I was in the game.”
Millman said that that was where the key to the game was: to have won the second round because from that moment Federer also started playing his worst tennis.
“I started to be more aggressive and to serve well, in addition to taking advantage of a little of the fact that Roger had a day without his best serve and with many unforced errors,” admitted Millman, who has achieved so far in the US Open. United has already insured enter among the best 40 players of the ATP.
Millman, who finished the game with just 28 unforced errors, said that the control he had over himself when he was on the court also helped him get the win.
“I have to control the impulse of my game, I proposed it before going out on the field and starting to compete,” explained Millman.
“I knew that the only thing I could control was my tennis and fighting spirit, something I’ve always done.”
The win is the biggest of his career and more for a player who last February underwent surgery in the groin and had previously undergone two shoulder operations.
At the end of 2017 for Millman his only concern was to regain health; nine months later he is one of the eight best players left in the United States Open.
Before the tournament began, Millman, a great friend of Andy Murray, trained with the Scottish tennis player on the Arthur Ashe track for the first time in his career, something that could have been a premonition of what happened this morning before the winner of more Grand Slam titles (20) in the history of world tennis.
It’s the second time in Federer’s last 14 appearances at the US Open that he lost before the quarterfinals.
“I have so much respect for Roger and for all he has done in favor of the sport of tennis, he has been a hero of mine, and today he was definitely not at his best, but, well, I will enjoy this triumph,” said Millman.
The seventh day of the men’s competition also left the victories of the favorites, the Croatian Marin Cilic, seventh seed and champion of the tournament in 2014, who won by 7-6 (6), 6-2 and 6-4 at Belgian David Goffin, tenth favorite.
While the Japanese Kei Nishikori, 20th seed and runner-up in 2014, won the German Philipp Kohlschreiber, number 34 in the world, 6-3, 6-2 and 7-5.
The duel between Cilic and Nishikori, which will be the seventh, with an advantage of 8-6 for the Japanese tennis player, will have the incentive of the great rematch of the 2014 final.