John Millman has choked back tears thanking his family for their support after his tennis career came to a close at the Australian Open on Thursday.
The 34-year-old received a wildcard from officials but only into the qualifying draw, forcing him to fight for a final farewell in the tournament proper next week.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Millman chokes back tears in emotional farewell.
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But it has all come to an end away from the spotlight after Slovakian Alex Molcan took out a 6-4 6-3 victory in the second round of qualifying.
Millman’s struggles on serve proved the difference in a match where both players committed 34 unforced errors apiece but Molcan landed 18 winners to the Aussie’s 12.
Molcan won an extraordinary 49 per cent of points on Millman’s serve.
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“It might not seem like much to bow out in qualifying but (the crowd support) means a lot,” Millman said.
His on-court interview quickly turned to the “really special” feeling of saying goodbye to professional tennis in Melbourne.
“It’s been 16 years I’ve been coming to this tournament and I really just wanted one more go.”
Millman then choked back tears thanking his family in the stands, singling out three people — mum, dad and partner Fee.
“I had a lot of people who didn’t think I’d eventuate to much, I stuck at it,” he said.
“The ones who did think I would are probably all over there (in the player box).”
It’s all over for John Millman. Credit: AAP
Millman retires having reached a career-best ranking of No.33 with one ATP title and one grand slam quarter-final — the 2018 US Open where he upset Roger Federer in the fourth round — to his name.
He went tantalisingly close to repeating the feat at the 2020 Australian Open, losing in five sets after leading Federer 8-4 in the deciding super-tiebreaker.
“I would have loved to reverse it and actually beaten him here at the Australian Open when I lost in five,” he said.
“But there’s been plenty of highs. That’s probably not the highlight of my career.
“Any time I could dress up in the green and gold in the Davis Cup in particular and Olympic Games, those are the moments that I really enjoyed, and they’re the ones that will probably stick with me.”
In his first of two Olympic appearances, at Rio 2016, Millman became the first player in Games history to win a singles match 6-0 6-0.
On home soil at the Australian Open, Millman played just six matches that finished in three sets, for two wins, compared to 11 going further, for six wins.
“I just wasn’t good enough in straights, to be honest with you,” he joked.
“It probably just summarised my career … I wasn’t good enough to win it easy, I always had to leave it out there
“Hopefully I represented that each time I came on court, I think the Aussies got behind me because I was a bit of a battler.”
Thursday’s qualifying defeat denied him a chance to bow out on one of Melbourne Park’s show courts during the tournament proper.
But Millman was typically OK with finishing up on humble court No.3.
“I won my first best-of-five match on this court against Gilles Muller. That one always sticks with me,” he said when asked about his favourite Open memory after debuting back in 2009.
“Just any time the crowd lifted me, which happened a lot, I needed that help.
“I was never the biggest guy or the biggest hitter. I needed every bit of energy and they came in their droves always, even in qualifying.”
– with AAP