John Millman had the biggest upset of the U.S. Open two nights ago when he sent No. 2 Roger Federer packing.
Against 13-time major champion Novak Djokovic, Millman couldn’t pull off another upset falling to the sixth-seed in straight sets 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
Like his match against Federer, Millman fell behind early against Djokovic. He couldn’t find an answer for Djokovic’s returns and was pushed around the court in each of his service games – one game lasting more than 16 minutes – to fall behind 4-1.
Millman upped his game late in the set, saving four more break points and earning one of his own to level the set. But he couldn’t capitalize and Djokovic took the first set 6-3.
The hot and humid conditions, which left Federer out of breath, took their toll on Djokovic who looked sluggish early in the second set. After missing several open shots, Djokovic doubled over and staggered around the court as his camp – coaches, trainer, and wife Jelena – looked on worriedly. From the sidelines two games later, with two ice towels draped over his shoulder, Djokovic continued yelling at his box.
Things got stranger from there. With Djokovic struggling in the conditions, Millman rushed off the court before the changeover to change his wet clothes after the chair umpire deemed the conditions dangerous enough that he should do so in a clarification tournament officials released later.
It has been an unusual year at this US Open, where the players and officials are sweating the details pic.twitter.com/YtPR2icfVJ
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) September 6, 2018
Meanwhile Djokovic, who welcomed the short break, sat next to the umpire shirtless and shouting for his team to bring him what was thought to be tablets.
THE TABLETS HAVE ARRIVED
— Naila-Jean Meyers (@NailaJeanMeyers) September 6, 2018
They brought the tablets, but it didn’t help right away.
Millman kept up the pressure even when Djokovic tried to shorten points with drop shots. He fended off seven break points but couldn’t stop Djokovic from converting on the eighth to take the two-sets to one lead.
Djokovic’s momentum only grew as he took the early break once again. But up 3-2, he received two time violations and Millman broke back for a 4-3 lead. Djokovic regained his focus and won the last three games to finish off Millman in two hours and forty nine minutes of grueling tennis.
Millman racked up 46 unforced errors while his opponent had 53 of his own to just 24 and 29 winners respectively.
Djokovic converted just four of his 20 break points, but it was his returns and serves that made the difference on Wednesday night. He won 73% of points when he got his first serve in and 66% when he got his second serve in while forcing Millman to play almost 30 more points in his service games.
Djokovic moves on to his 11th straight U.S. Open semifinal and will face Kei Nishikori on Friday. Nishikori overcame Marin Cilic in five sets to make his third U.S. Open semi earlier today. Djokovic has an 11-2 record over No. 21 seed, including a win in four sets at Wimbledon this year, but Nishikori beat him last time out on Arthur Ashe. En route to his 2014 runner-up finish, Nishikori dispatched of then-No. 1 Djokovic also in four sets 6–4, 1–6, 7–6 (4), 6–3.
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