John Millman is through to the second round of the Australian Open. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
John Millman is through to the second round of the Australian Open. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Aussie wildcard’s ‘dream’ $128k victory after Millman wins

PREVAILING in a nail-biting five-set match against Mikhail Kukushkin, Marc Polmans continued the winning trend set earlier on Tuesday by Australian compatriot John Millman.

Polmans needed to draw on all his reserves to clinch his first victory at the Australian Open, overcoming the world No.68 6-4 6-3 4-6 6-7 6-4.

The result seemed assured  when Polmans, a wildcard entrant, opened a two-set buffer, but Kukushkin edged his way back into the contest and forced it to a deciding fifth set by holding his nerve in a seesawing fourth-set tiebreak.

An exhausted Polmans was relieved to hold out for victory after losing a five-set first-round marathon at last year's Open.

"It was a long real long match today," Polmans said after the Court 7 classic.

"I'm happy I was able to finish the job after being two sets love up. I was up two sets love last year and lost in five sets. I'm happy it didn't happen again.

Marc Polmans celebrates the win. Picture: Mike Owen/Getty
Marc Polmans celebrates the win. Picture: Mike Owen/Getty

"It was definitely a dream come true to play in front of you guys (court 7) ... they really lifted me and thanks to everyone for hanging around."

Melburnian Polmans, whose singles prize money was listed at $563,777, will pocket the biggest single pay cheque of his career after progressing to the second round.

Millman, meanwhlile, wants his Aussie fan base to pump up the volume.

While Stefanos Tsitsipas asked his supporters to calm down to avoid bringing a "football" mentality to tennis, Millman said he preferred a party atmosphere in the stands at Melbourne Park.

And the louder and rowdier it is, the more energy he feels.

Milman, 30, said the vocal support from the fans was crucial, helping lift him to a gritty four-set victory over highlyrated youngster Ugo Humbert on show court three.

"I love a vocal crowd. I like feeding off the crowd's energy, I need that," Millman said.

"I try to bring that physicality (in tense matches), and sometimes you need that little bit of motivation on the sidelines.

"I love playing on that court, actually, in show Court 3. I have had some really good moments there.

"And, you know, the more rowdy they are, the drunker they are, the better (smiling)."

Tsitsipas has divided opinion with his comments about his Greek fans' conduct, saying on Monday night the "distracting" behaviour "should stay in football".

But Millman said the Australian Open should be fun for fans.

"Look, the Australian Open, it's not just a tennis event now. It should be an entertainment event," he said.

"I think our organisers have done an incredible job to not just make it a tennis spectacle.

"And we are an entertainment business and we've got to get people from all walks of life through the gates and appreciating tennis and all the other things.

"I love the support that I get here in Melbourne and makes the matches really memorable and worthwhile."

World No. 48 Milman was under pressure early but turned the momentum his way late in the first set to help set up victory over the Auckland Open winner.

The triumph sets up a tough second-round encounter against 31st-seed Humbert Hurkacz.

Milman said he liked to create a physical "dogfight" in matches and test his opponent's mental strength.

He said winning an hour-long first set felt like an important "body blow" against the 21-year-old Frenchman Humbert, who battled blisters on his feet throughout the match.

Johm Millman will face Roger Federer in Round 3 if he makes it through. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Johm Millman will face Roger Federer in Round 3 if he makes it through. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

"That's the type of tennis that, you know, I have built a brand on," Millman said.

"I try to bring physicality. I try to bring toughness, mental and physical toughness, when I go out there and play tennis.
"I think people know that about me. They know that, you know, I'm not going to go away. And that's just my brand of tennis.
"Look, I'd love to go out there and win super-quick points. That's just not how I'm built.

"And, you know, I think I can take a bit of pride in how I go about my business, too. I try to leave absolutely everything out there, win or lose."



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