Melbourne, Australia, 17 January 2022 | Vivienne Christie

John Millman is no stranger to extended battles at the Australian Open.

In 2020, the popular Queenslander exited to Roger Federer in a marathon third round.

Last year, Millman’s AO campaign ended in the first round with a five-set loss to young Frenchman Corentin Moutet.

Millman was clearly in no mood for such dramatic tests as he took to the court at Margaret Court Arena tonight.

Contesting his eighth Australian Open main draw, Millman took just 29 minutes to gain a 6-1 lead over Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, and soon extended it to a two-set advantage.

After a third-set glitch, the Australian progressed in with a 6-1 6-3 4-6 7-5 win in two hours and 52 minutes.

He was the third local player to advance on the opening day of AO 2022.

“I think probably the crowd got behind me,” said Millman, who was delighted to claim his first match wins since a quarterfinal run in St.Petersburg last October.

“It really gets you going, especially after a really average start to the year that I’ve had.”

The Australian could be equally pleased about managing the inevitable challenge from the experienced Lopez, who was making a record 79th consecutive Grand Slam appearance, and his 20th at the Australian Open.

The twist for Millman came in the opening game of the third set, when Lopez converted the first of five break point opportunities he’d earned for the match.

Lopez gained another service break in the seventh game, and while Millman clawed one back, the Spaniard sent the match into a fourth set.

Cheered on by a vocal crowd in the first evening session, Millman provided a pleasing reminder of how well he can settle in for a fight.

After failing to convert five break points on Lopez’ serve (two in the fourth game, three in the eighth), he at last gained the advantage in the 12th, securing victory as he pressured the Spaniard into error on his second match point.

“I had to look after my service games. I did that pretty well for most of the match, apart from the third set, and, you know, just created enough opportunities to eventually capitalise on one of them to close it out,” Millman surmised.

The Australian withstood 26 aces from his big-serving opponent, who recorded 53 winners in total to Millman’s 41. Managing errors was a key for Millman, who tallied 29 compared to 58 from Lopez.

Victory sets up a meeting with No.3 seed Alexander Zverev, a straight-sets winner over fellow German Daniel Altmaier at Rod Laver Arena tonight.

“You have to be playing amazing tennis to match it against the top players,” said Millman, noting the danger in Zverev’s big serve, double-handed backhand and overall consistency.

“Hopefully we can get on a big court. The crowd can really get behind me and I’ll give it my all.”

> READ: Vukic’s stunning Grand Slam breakthrough

Australian Open 2022

Men’s singles, first round
John Millman (AUS) 
d Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-1 6-3 4-6 7-5
[WC] Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) 
d [30] Lloyd Harris (RSA) 4-6 6-3 7-5 7-6(3)
[Q] Yannick Hanfmann (GER) d [WC] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 6-2 6-3 6-2
Adrian Mannarino (FRA) d James Duckworth (AUS) 6-4 2-6 3-6 6-2 6-1

Women’s singles, first round
[1] Ash Barty (AUS) d [Q] Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) 6-0 6-1
[8] Paula Badosa (ESP) d Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-4 6-0

Men’s singles, first round
[32] Alex de Minaur (AUS) v Lorenzo Musetti (ITA)
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) v Arthur Rinderknech (FRA)
Jordan Thompson (AUS) v Steve Johnson (USA)
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) v [Q] Liam Broady (GBR)
[WC] Alex Bolt (AUS) v Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP)
[WC] Chris O’Connell (AUS) v Hugo Gaston (FRA)

> VIEW: Full Australian Open 2022 men’s singles draw

Women’s singles, first round
Astra Sharma (AUS) v Clara Tauson (DEN)
[WC] Storm Sanders (AUS) 
v [2] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR)
[WC] Maddison Inglis (AUS) 
v [23] Leylah Fernandez (CAN)
[WC] Priscilla Hon (AUS)
 v [31] Marketa Vondrousova (CZE)
[WC] Daria Saville (AUS) 
v Rebecca Peterson (SWE)
[WC] Sam Stosur (AUS)
 v [WC] Robin Anderson (USA)

> VIEW: Full Australian Open 2022 women’s singles draw

Men’s singles, second round
John Millman (AUS)
v [3] Alexander Zverev (GER)
[WC] Aleksandar Vukic (AUS)
v [Q] Radu Albot (MDA)

Women’s singles, second round
[1] Ash Barty (AUS) v [Q] Lucia Bronzetti (ITA)

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