Roger Federer’s troubles at the US Open continued Monday night in New York. The Swiss great hadn’t won a US Open title since 2008 and it won’t happen this year either after being stunned in the fourth round by Australian journeyman John Millman 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(7). 7-6(3).
Federer, who was 40-0 against players ranked outside the Top 50 at the US Open, looked good early against the 55th-ranked Millman, leading by a set and serving for the second. He was well in control.
But the Swiss fell apart and in the humid night conditions, Millman started to find his groove. While not highly touted, Millman took a set off Federer a few years ago in Brisbane, so there was some belief for the 29-year-old.
Millman continued to be rock solid off the ground in the third, especially off the backhand. Federer continued to misfire. Continued to sweat. Continued to look off.
In the fourth, Federer grabbed an early break much to the approval of the Ashe crowd and went up 4-2. But he was broken right back. And in the breaker, Federer fell apart consecutively double faulting and later spraying a forehand long down match point. It was quite an ugly finish for the 5-time US Open champion.
“I just thought it was very hot tonight,” said Federer indicating there was injury. “It was just one of those nights I felt I couldn’t get air. It’s one of the first times that’s happened to me. You keep sweating more and more and you lose energy.
“It was hot,” said Federer. “I do believe with the roof there is no air circulation.”
The 37-year-old Federer looked like he was 37. Federer finished with 77 unforced errors including 10 double faults and managed to hit just 49% of his first serves in.
“I wish I could have led two sets to love because maybe things would have been different,” Federer said.
Millman, who was 0-10 against Top 10 players, moves on to his first Grand Slam quarterfinal. There will be no Federer-Djokovic quarter. That’s gone.
“I have so much respect for Roger and everything he’s done for the game and he’s been a hero of mine and today he was definitely not at his best but, you know, I’ll take it,” Millman said on court.
Djokovic was on in the mid-day heat against Joao Sousa and he took care of business. The Portuguese No. 1 was proficient from the backcourt, but had little to hurt the Serb who won it 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours.
“I’m very happy to get this one done in straight sets,” said Djokovic. “It was much more difficult than the score indicates. Credit to Joao, who brought an intensity to the court. It was a tough one to play.”
“I’m just trying to cherish the moment on the court,” he added. “I’m not 21 anymore. I still don’t feel old, but at the same time, there is a little biological clock. Sometimes you just have to survive.”
The only bump Djokovic had was early in the third set when he left the court to see the doctor for an unknown chest issue.
“It was couple things,” Djokovic said. “But, yeah, heat was the – what do you call it – adversity today. It is what it is. I’ve experienced that in the first round. It’s tough, you know. It’s not easy to play in these kind of conditions. At the same time, you can’t do anything but try to be tough and survive, you know, find a way to win.”
Djokovic, who has never lost in the US Open fourth round, has now made the quarterfinals in New York 11 straight times.
Also on Wednesday, it will be a rematch of the 2014 US Open final as Marin Cilic meets Kei Nishikori after each won straight setters.
Nishikori opened the day up against Philipp Kohlschreiber who ousted his countryman Alexander Zverev on Saturday. And the veteran German was no match for Nishikori who was in complete control with a 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 win. The only blip was that Nishikori failed to serve it out at 5-4 in the third, but did so two games later.
“I think he was playing good, too,” Nishikori said. “But I think I was playing little better and tried to stepping in a lot and playing aggressive and played, you know, the way I wanted to. I mean, for me, was great game. He started playing well in the last couple of games, but happy to finish in three sets today.”
Assessed Kohlschreiber, “He didn’t make many mistakes. He pushed me around. He was too much in control of the game. Of course, I maybe had not my best day today. But, yeah, it’s another thing you can wish for. I tried to, yeah, work hard into the points, which is tough. He was very dictating. But, yeah, overall I gave everything. Wished to play a little bit better tennis today, but wasn’t the case.”
Cilic also had a straightforward day coasting past David Goffin 7-6, 6-2, 6-4.
“It was extremely important to win first set today,” said Cilic. “Very humid conditions, hot as well. Obviously playing with David, who also likes to play long rallies as well, dictates the game, it was very important to win it.”
Nishikori and Cilic will meet for the 15th time on Wednesday. Nishikori leads 8-6 but of course Cilic won the US Open final four years ago.
“Extremely solid player from the back of the court,” said Cilic. “Incredible backhand. Great mover, as well. He’s got sweet timing of the ball. Hitting it, for his size, incredibly quick, incredibly fast. Always a pleasure to watch him. He had a little bit of trouble with his injury on the wrist. Great to see him playing this well again, enjoying his time on the court.”
On tap Tuesday, the quaarterfinals get underway with just two mens matches. Big men John Isner and Juan Martin del Potro duel in a rematch of their Miami semifinal won by the American and French quarter taken by Delpo. Isner in his second US Open quarterfinal after 2011 and he’s already played two five set matches. Del Potro hasn’t dropped a set.
In the evening, Rafael Nadal meets Dominic Thiem in a rematch of their French Open final. Nadal, who has won his last 11 at the US Open, is 7-3 against the Austrian, but this is their first meeting off of the hard courts. It’s also Thiem’s first non-clay Slam quarterfinal. Nadal also will remain No. 1 with the Federer loss.
TUESDAY US OPEN SCHEDULE
ARTHUR ASHE STADIUM 12:00 PM
S. Stephens (USA)  vs. A. Sevastova (LAT) 
NOT BEFORE: 1:30 PM
J. Del Potro (ARG)  vs. J. Isner (USA) 
ARTHUR ASHE STADIUM 7:00 PM
S. Williams (USA)  vs. Ka. Pliskova (CZE) 
R. Nadal (ESP)  vs. D. Thiem (AUT) 
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