Newcombe Medal: Millman becomes tour fixture
John Millman enjoyed a solid season on the ATP tour in 2016 in which he established himself as a consistent threat in the men's game.
Few Australian players performed as strongly at the majors in 2016 as John Millman.
The Queenslander in January reached the third round at a Grand Slam event for the first time at the Australian Open, and then repeated the feat with a run to the last 32 at Wimbledon.
The results, coupled with his first appearance in an ATP semifinal in Winston-Salem, helped Millman compile his best-ever season during which he peaked at a career-high ranking of 60th.
And it sees him in contention for the 2016 Newcombe Medal, awarded to Australia’s most outstanding tennis player and ambassador for the sport.
“At the start of the year I wanted to kick on from top hundred. You want to really try to cement yourself a little bit deeper into top hundred,” said Millman, who came extremely close to his goal of a top-50 ranking.
“At the Grand Slams I wanted to go better than I had before. That was the second round. I’ve ticked that box.
“But the key thing with tennis is not to rest on your laurels. You’ve got to keep on pushing forward. That’s what I hopefully can do. I got to just keep on trying to get better each time I get out on court.”
Last year, Millman ended the year ranked 92nd with an tour-level win-loss record of 5-9.
This season, that tour-level record improved to 19-21, a sign of how much more regularly the Queenslander was playing at the highest level.
After pushing compatriot Bernard Tomic in his third-round loss at Melbourne Park, Millman flew to France and reached an ATP quarterfinal in Montpellier. And he matched his Australian Open result at the All England Club, beating 26th seed Benoit Paire and going toe-to-toe with Andy Murray from the baseline in a competitive Centre Court outing in the third round.
The 27-year-old then made his Olympic debut for Australia at the Rio 2016 games, and stamped a unique mark on the event – with a 6-0 6-0 win over Ricardas Berankis in the opening round, Millman became the first player in history to record a double-bagel victory in men’s singles at the Olympics.
He then pushed world No.7 Kei Nishikori in a hard-fought second-round loss before winning seven of his next nine US summer hardcourt matches, a run culminating with his semifinal result in Winston-Salem.
Millman eventually succumbed to bursitis of the hip, which forced him to retire from his semifinal at the Ningbo Challenger in China and ended his season in October.
But it was nonetheless a year of impressive consolidation for the hard-working Aussie, who completed his second-straight top 100 season and will enter 2017 confident in his abilities to succeed at the sport’s elite tier.