Five-time former champion and world #2 Roger Federer will look to continue his US Open challenge when he takes on Australia’s John Millman. The past few months have not been hugely successful for Federer, but a first title in New York since 2008 would more than banish those disappointments. Millman, who is making his debut in the fourth round at a Major, will have no intention of becoming a stepping stone along Federer’s path to glory. Who will come out on top?
This will be the second meeting between Federer and Millman. The first came three years ago in the second round in Brisbane, and though Federer won it, Millman can take heart from his performance. He won the first set, fighting off some early Federer pressure to claim it 6-4. Thereafter, Federer began to take control and the Swiss eventually ran out a 4-6 6-4 6-3 winner. But Millman showed in that match that he could compete with Federer.
Path to the fourth round
Federer commenced his US Open campaign with a comfortable 6-2 6-2 6-4 victory under the lights on Arthur Ashe over Yoshihito Nishioka, who despite a commendable effort, was thoroughly outclassed. Federer then bested the tricky Benoit Paire 7-5 6-4 6-4, in a performance that was more workman-like than it was clinical. But he was at his best against Nick Kyrgios, who had been embroiled in a controversy not of his own making in the second round, to dismiss the Australian 6-4 6-1 7-5.
Millman’s US Open began against Jenson Brooksby, a 17-year-old wild card who earned his spot in the main draw by winning the USTA Boys' under-18 National Championship, but could not match Millman, who won 6-4 6-2 6-0. The Australian then overcame the often fiery Fabio Fognini in four sets, 6-1 4-6 6-4 6-1 to reach the third round at a Grand Slam for the third time in his career. There he beat Mikhail Kukushkin 6-4 4-6 6-1 6-3 to claim his place in the second week.
How do they match up?
As Federer’s career has progressed his match-winning shot has become his serve, and it is a formidable weapon. He has already hit 35 aces in New York, a number that would almost certainly be higher were it not for a below-par day at the line in the second round against Paire. And even when opponents get a racquet on his first serve, Federer still wins the point the vast majority of the time. Kyrgios, for example, managed to win only eight points against it.
Federer also cut through Kyrgios’ defences with ease off the ground, hitting 51 winners and making just 24 unforced errors. Millman has no weapons of Federer’s quality. He is an excellent mover, however, and a good competitor. But, he may need to step out of his comfort zone and play more aggressively if he wants to win this match. Against Djokovic at Queen’s he was too passive and took a 6-2 6-1 hammering as a result. If he did not learn from that, a similar result may be in store.
Millman played an excellent match when he last faced Federer and still came away the loser. Unfortunately for the Australian, no amount of grit and determination can bridge the considerable gulf in quality that exists between these two men. And thus, whilst he is sure to take from De Minaur’s admirable example against Cilic and battle to the end, it seems inevitable that it will be his end not Federer’s. Expect a straight sets win for the world #2.