Brisbane’s John Millman will play another showcase Pat Rafter Arena match in his career-long affair with his home tournament, winning through to a second-round tilt with former world No.3 Grigor Dimitrov.
Millman last night showed the folks back home the improvements in his tennis in a year capped by his US Open upset of Roger Federer and a push into the top 40 rankings for the first time at the age of 29.
The Queenslander produced an extra gear to see off American Tennys Sandgren, an Australian Open quarter-finalist last summer, 7-6 (8-6), 6-7 (6-8), 6-0 to reward a boisterous Rafter Arena crowd.
“You are going to get those matches during the course of a year – that’s tennis – and I felt I rebounded really well in the third set,’’ Millman said.
“I feel responsibility when I play in Brisbane because so many people have helped me in my career.’’
Millman will next play sixth seed Dimitrov, who in the second round last summer denied the Australian Davis Cup player despite being down match point.
The Australian No.3 had a match point at 6-5 in the second-set tie-break but was unable to take control of a point on Sandgren’s serve.
Millman managed to shut-out any feelings of mounting despair harking back to his 2018 loss to Dimitrov.
In 2013, Millman took a surprised Andy Murray to a third set in a Rafter Arena night match and in 2016 he led Roger Federer by a set and a break of serve before losing.
He had far from a settled preparation for this Australian circuit, as he needed two injections to improve back and hip injuires which curtailed his 2018 season.
Millman said this week that he wanted to mount a good run at the tournament as it will likely be the last time he can play in a Brisbane International before it loses its men’s field to the ATP Cup to be held in Australia from 2020.