Roger Federer came through a pulsating five-setter in the third round of the Australian Open against John Millman.
Federer won 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 (7-2), 4-6, 7-6 (10-8) with the Swiss superstar prevailing in the super tie-break in the fifth set.
With the victory, Federer now has 100 wins at the Australian Open -- the first player to do so. He is also the only player to reach the centennial mark in two different majors having achieved the feat at Wimbledon last year.
At the end of the game, the 38-year-old said, "Thank god it's a super tie-breaker... otherwise I would have lost." He looked out for the count when he was down 8-4 in the best-of-10 fifth set super tiebreaker.
“He played a great match -- I can't even speak any more.
“It came down to the wire. I was getting ready to explain myself in the press conference. What a match.
“I had to figure out a way to get him in trouble on his serve,” he added. “He was doing such a nice job of not making many mistakes. I never really felt comfortable.”
He is one of only four players in the 100 club -- Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon, and Chris Evert and Serena Williams at the US Open are the others.
But it nearly didn't happen against the 47th ranked Australian Millman, who memorably beat Federer over four gruelling sets in the round of 16 at the US Open in 2018.
One of the fittest players on tour, Millman matched Federer game for game in the opening set until the ninth, when he pounced, converting a second break point when he pounded a forehand winner.
Federer was struggling to find his rhythm and quickly found himself 5-2 down. He then easily held serve before breaking back with a phenomenal backhand down the line as Millman was serving for the set.
But Federer then blew it, broken to love thanks to poor serving to hand Millman a one-set lead.
Millman was serving well and cracking big forehands and Federer didn't have any answers, with the second set going to serve until a crucial tiebreak when the Swiss stepped up in the pressure-cooker atmosphere, taking his game to another level.
With his confidence restored, he wrestled control of the third set, but Millman refused to give up and came roaring back, excelling in the baselines rallies to break for a 4-3 lead and take the match into a deciding fifth set.
They shared breaks in the tense decider and it went to a tiebreak with Federer looking dead and buried at 8-4 down.
But he stayed calm and somehow hauled himself back to win a Grand Slam classic.
With inputs from AFP
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