John Millman’s (left) win over Thiago Monteiro secured Australia a spot in the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid. (AAP: James Elsby)
John Millman has been called many things in his tennis career — giantkiller, journeyman, tenacious — and this weekend he stepped up as Australia’s Davis Cup leader.
- Australia will be one of 18 teams in this year’s Davis Cup finals event in Madrid later this year
- Among the other teams to qualify are Croatia, Colombia, Italy, Germany, Ecuador and the United States
- Australia made it to the first edition of the new-look Davis Cup Finals last year, losing to Canada in the quarter-finals
The humble Millman downplays his role in Australia’s latest Davis Cup triumph, after stirring comeback victories to steer his country into the 18-team finals event later this year.
Davis Cup Finals tweet: (Tick emoji) @TennisAustralia (wave emoji) (koala emoji) (Australian flag emoji) Next stop #DavisCupFinals
Millman’s heroics delivered Australia a 3-1 win against Brazil in the qualifying tie at Memorial Drive in Adelaide.
A day after coming from a set down to win his opening singles rubber, Millman repeated the feat on Saturday to down Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/3).
The triumph punches Australia’s ticket into the cup finals in November in Spain and leaves captain Lleyton Hewitt in no doubt that Millman is a hero.
“That is what Davis Cup tennis is all about,” Hewitt said.
“What a performance. That is going to go down as one of the great weekends in his career.”
Tennis Australia tweet: What it’s all about Australia has qualified for the @DavisCupFinals with a spirited 3-1 victory against Brazil. #Adelaide, that was one epic #DavisCup encounter! #GoAussies
Millman took the court on Saturday after Australia’s doubles team of James Duckworth and John Peers fell in a cliffhanger, losing 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (8/6) to Marcelo Demoliner and Felipe Meligeni Rodrigues Alves.
Millman recovered after losing the first set on Friday to defeat young gun Thiago Seyboth Wild and he did the same in an epic Saturday special against Monteiro.
“I always believed,” Millman said.
“The body was a little sore; the emotion levels were perhaps a little bit down at times — it’s tough to be up the whole time.
“But that is when you have really got to use your bench and use the experience that is Lleyton Hewitt and Tony Roche … they dragged me up when I was nearly down.”
The Australian heaped pressure on early, with eight break points in the Brazilian’s initial two service games, but Monteiro refused to buckle and saved them all, setting a gripping tone en route to taking the first set.
John Millman came from a set down for the second time in the tie to clinch the winning point for Australia. (AAP: James Elsby)
World number 43 Millman, Australia’s top-ranked player in the absence of injured duo Nick Kyrgios and Alex de Minaur, claimed the second set with a dominant tiebreak, banking the initial four points.
Games went on serve in the third, creating a high-stakes tiebreak, which Millman cracked open with scores 3-3.
Monteiro, after being run from pillar to post by his opponent’s precise groundstrokes, mistimed a forehand to give the Australian the mini-break.
Millman pounced, with a stretch of four consecutive points to decide the set, match, the tie and Australia’s Davis Cup status.