Millman says he couldn't have done more

Roger Federer said he apologised to John Millman for edging their thrilling Australian Open clash.
Roger Federer said he apologised to John Millman for edging their thrilling Australian Open clash.

A shattered John Millman says he gave it his all as he fell heart-breakingly short of an Australian Open boilover against Roger Federer.

Millman and six-time champion Federer went toe-to-toe on Rod Laver Arena for more than four hours on Friday night with the Swiss maestro finally nailing a 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 4-6 7-6 (10-8) win.

The Queensland veteran had the world No.3 on the ropes - up 8-4 in the first super tiebreak to be played on the Open's main venue - but Federer reeled off six straight points to secure the victory.

And afterwards Federer revealed he apologised to 30-year-old Millman after coming through their epic encounter.

"I mumbled something to him at the net just saying, 'I have so much respect for you, and it's such a pity, I'm so sorry, but well played' because I really feel that way for John," the third seed said.

The only Australian this century to have topped Federer at a grand slam, Millman was looking to repeat his unlikely four-set fourth-round 2018 US Open win over the 20-times major champion.

"Yeah, I'm disappointed - I left it all out there and I didn't win," world No.47 Millman said.

"I'd probably rather lose it like 10-5 or something.

"Obviously would have been great to have served an ace and have a few matchies and put it to bed but it didn't happen.

"You know, s***, I played some all right tennis to get to that stage."

Millman denied he choked, given his big tiebreak lead, and said he continued to go for his shots.

"Roger made it tough - that's what the best players do," he said.

"We had 10 to 15 ball exchanges when I had my service points.

"I'll have to go back and watch it but if you engaged in 10-20 ball exchanges, you ticked a few boxes, you know.

"It's not as if it was double faults or first-ball errors - I went after it.

"I think when you understand tennis and stuff, I don't think there was a whole lot wrong."

A relieved Federer, 38, added: "He's just so, so tough from the baseline.

"The way he hits it makes me unsure if I should pull the trigger or I shouldn't - is it there to be hit or not?

"I think the biggest problem for me was just ...finding the ways to unlock him. That's his credit. He's a great player."

Australian Associated Press