Proud Millman brave in defeat
Published 9 August 2016 (AEDT)
TENNIS: Olympic record holder John Millman came close to causing a major upset on centre court at the Olympic Tennis Centre in Rio when he led fourth seed Kei Nishikori in both sets, only to eventually go down 7-6 6-4.
In a close and entertaining contest, Millman quickly endeared himself to the crowd with his spirit and fighting qualities and, whilst disappointed, said he would leave proud and with no regrets.
“It was a really tough match, I had chances in both sets and that is what makes those players really tough, they are tough to put away,” said Millman.
“I don’t think I played too bad, especially in that tiebreak. Kei just played seven unbelievable points to get back so it was tough out there and it is disappointing.
“Kei got the momentum at the end and I struggled to stop that but apart from that, first set and four-three up in the second, I think anyone watching would of thought that I was in the hunt.
“I felt like I played well today but it is just a real shame when you are playing well and don’t quite get over the line.
“I will learn from it and I will get better and hopefully I can get another opportunity to represent my country.
The opportunity to represent Australia was not lost on Millman, who indicated that the moment and memories would stay with him forever.
“Every time I step out there on the court I want to win, especially when you are playing for your country,” Millman said.
“I left it all out there and I can be happy with that. It just would have been nice to of progressed through.
“It has been a tremendous honour and I am not just saying that.
“To be able to represent your country at an Olympic Games … for me, I don’t think that there is any better thing.
“It has been a real treat and is something that I will remember forever and if I had to stop playing tomorrow I would be pretty proud of having represented my country on the world’s biggest stage.”
Millman admitted the whole Games experience is somewhat surreal and, given his injuries and circumstances of the past, he has been determined to savour every moment.
“It has been no secret that it has been tough for me and I take every day as a blessing and every match as a blessing,” he said.
“I’m just really upset to be honest with you that I couldn’t have got through tonight, so it has been an unbelievable experience here and I just think that any player given the opportunity to represent their country should do so.
“I think it is important for me to let the match settle in and to let the emotions down and then make the decision about what is next.
“I would love to spend a few more days here, I would love to cheer on Sam (Stosur) tomorrow and a few of the other Aussies in the other sports as it has been a real buzz here I don’t know if I will ever play another Olympics again.
“I don’t know if I will be around in another four years and I know that this tennis business is a tough one and it is tough on the body and I know that in the space of anything it can be all over, so I will continue to soak up every minute of it here and I will let it sink in that I am an Olympian.”