Millman saves match points to reach Adelaide second round
Australian qualifier John Millman saves match points against the higher-ranked Albert Ramos-Vinolas to progress to the second round of the Adelaide International.
John Millman has triumphed in a battle of the veterans at Adelaide International 2, with the 33-year-old Australian utilising all his experience as he outlasted Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas in three tight sets.
Millman was chasing a first ATP main-draw victory since August 2022 in the South Australian capital and after two hours and 36-minutes, the tenacious Queenslander emerged with a 4-6 6-3 7-6(6) win.
Saving two match points in the third-set tiebreak, Millman’s victory over the 34-year-old Ramos-Vinolas set a second-round meeting with another Spaniard, Alejandro Davidovich-Fokina.
“I’m feeling fantastic … it’s always good when you win it 7-6 in the third,” said a delighted Millman, who having fallen to world No.148 in recent months, can sense a resurgence as a qualifier in the ATP 250 event.
“A few factors contributed to that (drop), but I feel refreshed,” Millman added, thanking Brisbane-based physical performance coach Dirk Spits for helping him achieve the necessary physical gains.
“Now I’m here playing some pretty good tennis. Moving well and not in much pain.”
The Australian has showed as much in wins this week over Bernabe Zapata Miralles and countryman Chris O’Connell, which set up the main-draw match with Ramos-Vinolas on Adelaide’s Centre Court.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) January 10, 2023
A determined Millman worked hard for opportunities against Ramos-Vinolas, recovering from a first-set deficit to level after the second set and force a third-set decider.
After the pair exchanged early service breaks, Millman made critical inroads against his 38th-ranked opponent, claiming another service break to take a 4-3 lead in that final set.
But consolidating again proved difficult, Ramos-Vinolas fighting back immediately before the match progressed so a tiebreak. Some stunning winners from each player were negated by untimely errors, with Millman saving two match points before holding one of his own.
The Australian managed it superbly as he increased his aggression to force the Spaniard into another critical error. “Even at age 33, I’m still trying to add little bits to my game,” said Millman, explaining an experimental approach in venturing to the net.
“Obviously that’s something that probably could have won me a few more matches earlier in my career and hopefully I can add to it in my next match.”
Earlier, Tommy Paul capitalised on the bigger moments against Australian opponent O’Connell, who entered the main draw as a lucky loser after exiting to Millman in qualifying.
The 28-year-old O’Connell held his own against the eighth-seeded American, who claimed crucial service breaks in the final game of each set as he secured a 6-4 7-5 victory in exactly 90 minutes.
Paul climbed to a career-high world No.28 last season and was relieved to launch his first main draw match of 2023 on a winning note.
“(It’s) always tricky first match of the season, so I’m pretty happy with how I played,” said Paul, who has since dropped to No.35 in the rankings. “Hopefully (after a good 2022 season) I keep going up, little by little.”
The 25-year-old will have to make further inroads when he faces rising Brit Jack Draper in the Adelaide International 2 second round.
AUSSIES IN ACTION – Adelaide
Men’s singles, first round
[Q] John Millman (AUS) d Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 4-6 6-3 7-6(6)
 Tommy Paul (USA) d [LL] Chris O’Connell (AUS) 6-4 7-5
[WC] Jason Kubler (AUS) d [Q] Tomas Martin Etcheverry (ARG) 7-6(2) 7-5
Women’s singles, first round
[LL] Kaia Kanepi (EST) d [WC] Storm Hunter (AUS) 6-2 6-2
Women’s doubles, first round
Alicja Rosolska (POL)/Erin Routliffe (NZL) d [WC] Alana Parnaby (AUS)/Olivia Tjandramulia (AUS) 6-3 6-4
Men’s doubles, first round
[WC] Jeremy Beale (AUS)/Luke Saville (AUS) d Julian Cash (GBR)/Henry Patten (GBR) 3-6 6-3 [10-5]
Men’s doubles, first round
[WC] Blake Ellis (AUS)/Andrew Harris (AUS) v Maxime Cressy (USA)/Albano Olivetti (FRA)
Men’s singles, second round
[WC] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) v  Andrey Rublev
[Q] John Millman (AUS) v  Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP)
[WC] Jason Kubler (AUS) v  Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB)
Women’s doubles, second round
 Storm Hunter (AUS)/Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) v Miriam Kolodziejova (CZE)/Marketa Vondrousova (CZE)
Sam Stosur (AUS)/Nicole Melichar-Martinez (USA) v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/Elena Rybakina (KAZ)
Men’s doubles, second round
 Matt Ebden (AUS)/Rohan Bopanna (IND) v Nicolas Mahut (FRA)/Tim Puetz (GER)
John Peers (AUS)/Andreas Mies (GER) v  Ivan Dodig (CRO)/Austin Krajicek (USA)
[WC] Jeremy Beale (AUS)/Luke Saville (AUS) v  Rafael Matos (BRA)/David Vega Hernandez (ESP)
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