Both players in the build-up highlighted how much they’ve practiced over the years and it was evident in the early exchanges, with a lot of correct guesswork in the rallies.
After a few holds, a vocal fan yelled “hustle Johnny, let’s go mate.” The Queenslander obliged, providing a wall of resistance to an off-kilter Federer.
Millman punished a slow start from the No.3 seed, who was struggling to hit the heights of his sublime performances in the opening two rounds.
World No.47 Millman deserved the opener and was thriving as the frontrunner, serving first in the second set, and his hustle continued by ramping up the pressure on return.
However, the six-time champion was slowly finding his range. Into the tiebreak, Federer took charge with authoritative play to connect with a collection of crisp volleys and smart overheads to level the clash.
“I had to figure out how to get him into trouble on his serve,” reflected Federer.
“He was doing such a good job of not making mistakes, I was struggling, he was dominating both sides. I had to figure out how to create chances.
“It was big to get that second set, but I never felt comfortable, always on the back foot until that last shot.”