World #6 and Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic will look to continue his charge towards a 14th Major title when he takes on the giant-killing John Millman. Djokovic, who completed the Career Golden Masters by winning the title in Cincinnati last month, is amongst the clear favourites for the title and has looked increasingly sharp as the tournament has progressed. But Millman has played without fear and been rewarded with a career-best run at a Grand Slam. Who will come out on top?
Djokovic and Millman have met once previously. That match came earlier this year at Queen’s in the first round and Millman will not have fond memories of it. After a good start in which he matched Djokovic over the first four games, the Serb raised his level and Millman was left trailing in his wake. Djokovic raced away with the first set, winning four games on the bounce to seal it and the second set was even less competitive as Djokovic wrapped up a 6-2 6-1 victory.
Path to the quarterfinals
Djokovic opened his campaign against Marton Fucsovics and was given a searching examination by the Hungarian on a brutally hot day, but he passed it, winning the final 10 games to claim a 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-0 win. He then made a strong start against Tennys Sandgren, and despite a poor third set, was a reasonably comfortable 6-1 6-3 6-7 6-2 victor. He backed that up by crushing Richard Gasquet 6-2 6-3 6-3 and battling past Joao Sousa and the heat in the fourth round to win 6-3 6-4 6-3.
Millman’s overwhelmed his first-round opponent Jenson Brooksby, an American teenaged wildcard, 6-4 6-2 6-0 before upsetting 14th seed Fabio Fognini 6-1 4-6 6-4 6-1. That was followed by a four-set victory over Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan to send him into the second week at a Major for the first time. Waiting for him there was world #2 Roger Federer and Millman delivered the performance of his career to stun an out of sorts Federer and the tennis world 3-6 7-5 7-6 7-6.
How do they match up?
Both Djokovic and Millman are excellent movers with impressive levels of fitness. They also both possess solid groundstrokes and will give up few cheap errors. Both men excel at staying alive in a point even when under heavy pressure. But, concerningly for Millman, that consistency and footspeed is more or less everything he brings to the court. He has no big weapons nor is he particularly comfortable stepping in and dictating proceeding. Djokovic, in contrast, has some serious firepower.
His forehand is deceptively powerful and his backhand is exceptionally accurate, especially when he takes it down the line, though he only hits that shot when he is feeling confident. But where he is most dangerous to Millman is when returning. There are none better than the Serb in that department. Although, interestingly, it is Millman who leads the tournament in points won against second serves and break points converted, his serve will nonetheless come under forensic scrutiny from Djokovic.
Millman is in the form of his life and deserves great credit for this run and his win over Federer. But the Swiss was far from his best, delivering an abject performance which saw him give up 10 double faults and 76 unforced errors. Djokovic will not be so generous. Against Sousa he made just 18 unforced errors and hit only one double fault. He can out gun Millman from the baseline and withstand the worst of what the Australian can throw at him. Djokovic in straight sets.