Spirited Millman makes life difficult for Djokovic, but lightning fails to strike twice
John Millman wants tennis authorities to name and shame cyber bullies after revealing he had fallen victim to online trolls bitter about losing bets on his matches.
In a postscript to his magical US Open run, Millman said he even expected to come under attack after losing his quarter-final to grand slam colossus Novak Djokovic.
“I’ll have some probably now,” Millman said before departing New York on Thursday [local time].
“It’s a bit of a headache and a bit of a blight at the moment that a lot of players have to deal with.
“I don’t know the answer. Look, you try to ignore it but there’s a fair few idiots out there that something possesses them to get online.
“You get that always whenever you have a loss.”
Millman has spoken out about online critics before, when he suffered abuse after failing to convert two match points against then-world number three Grigor Dimitrov at the Brisbane International earlier this year.
The popular Queenslander also said he copped online abuse after his first-round loss to Taro Daniel at Winstom Salem the week before the US Open.
Millman has learnt to deal with such appalling bullying but says it can be distressing for players.
“I’d just like them [the trolls] to be named and shamed a bit more. Some of these people have families and stuff and they’re hurling abuse at people,” he said.
“I find it a bit strange, but obviously they lack a little bit of character.”
A far-from isolated issue
Australia’s new tennis hero is by no means alone.
Retired countryman Sam Groth once claimed that even his girlfriend and family had received death threats after some of his matches.
American player Nicole Gibbs told CNN last year that she’d first started receiving online abuse while playing college tennis.
Meanwhile, Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki called out supporters in the stands at the Miami Open earlier this year for abuse suffered by both her and her supporters in her player box.
Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson is another to have suffered through what Millman believes is an epidemic that needs serious attention.
Djokovic was an almost unbackable favourite against the Queenslander despite his heroics the previous round against Roger Federer — with a Millman victory paying anywhere between $9 and $14.
John Millman beat Roger Federer, and the odds at the US Open before falling to Novak Djokovic in the following round. (AP: Jason DeCrow)
Despite the fact that Millman could find himself a target for abuse after stretching Djokovic to almost three hours in a 6-3 6-4 6-4 defeat, the world number 55 was pleased with his performance.
“I’m really, really proud — not proud but happy — with how my body has held in there and physically I actually feel pretty good in this caper,” Millman said.
“I mean, it’s tough. Playing against Novak, I think the guy’s beat a brick wall once.
“He makes you work hard for every point and it’s relentless. It’s time and time again. And that’s the difficulty playing against him.”
Millman, who will climb to a career-high ranking inside the world’s top 40 for his Flushing Meadows run, will get little respite.
He was leaving for Europe on Thursday to spearhead Australia’s Davis Cup tie against the Dominic Thiem-led Austrians in Graz next week.