2015 is finally here! At least as far as Roger Federer is concerned. Roger played his first match of the year in Brisbane and faced off against local hero John Millman, ranked 153. But buoyed by vociferous crowd support, Millman was pumped from the start and though he had to dig deep in his first game, saving 2 break points, he got on the board and then didn’t look back. Our champ meanwhile looked sluggish and error-prone. Nothing was really working except for maybe the serve. He was either over-hitting or shanking many of his routine shots. He had 5 breakpoints in this set but converted none. Meanwhile, he saved 5 breakpoints, 3 of which were set points, before finally getting broken to lose the first 4-6.
The second started in the same vein. Millman was still playing like it was the match of his life while Roger continued to struggle and got broken in his second service game. But that sparked something inside him and he broke back right away to get back on serve. But a break isn’t a break till you consolidate and for a few minutes it didn’t look like he would be able to as he went down 0-40 in his service game. But he fought back and ultimately leveled to 3 all. You can see his fight back here. A momentum shift was in the air as Roger broke Millman once more to take the lead for the first time in the match. Serving at 4*-3 Roger had to keep fighting to consolidate but he finally did. Millman didn’t back down and arrested the momentum a bit by holding and making Roger serve for the set. Millman even had a breakpoint but ultimately Roger took the second set 6-4. Here is a clip of the set point.
The third set was intense as both players continued to push each other but kept holding nonetheless. Serving to go up to 3 all, Roger hit this insane shot of the day at deuce 😀 By this time you could sense that Roger was getting his groove back and at 3-all Roger finally broke Millman for the first time in the set. He followed that up quickly with a love hold and it was suddenly up to Millman to serve to stay in the match at 3*-5. He got just one point. Roger broke him at 15 to take the set, 6-3 and the match. Here is the match point and here are some highlights. Here is the on-court interview. Here are the match stats.Roger committed 21 unforced errors in the first set alone. But the good thing is he kept getting better with each game and each set and by the end he was back to his usual self. I think most of it was down to this being his first match of the year, having to shake off that rust and getting used to the conditions.
Roger looked tired and sweaty for most of the match and he said the same afterwards. “I thought I got quite lucky. He was playing great tennis until maybe the last couple of games. I had to fight very hard. Credit to him for pushing me to the edge. I didn’t play badly, but maybe felt a bit tired at times. The first match of the season you never know quite what to expect. I am sweating like crazy. I am happy we had a good match and I got through in the end. I thought he was definitely the more consistent player out there. He was dominating the baseline, so I tried to come in some and tried to mix it up. Basically I had to elevate my game, because he was not letting go.” Here is a link to a part of his presser afterwards.
Up next is another Australian player James Duckworth, ranked 125. He played against Duckworth last year at the Australian Open and won in straight sets. Hopefully he will be able to do the same today although it won’t be easy because Duckworth has been playing well this week. The match starts less than 2 hours from now. Good luck Roger!