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January 8, 2018

John Millman

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

J. MILLMAN/A. Popyrin

7-6, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How did you feel out there?
JOHN MILLMAN: A little bit, probably a little bit flat today, to be honest. A lot of emotions last week in Brisbane.

Physically, my body actually feels fine, but you just have some days where you're just a little bit flat. But happy to get that one out of the way and moving on to the second round.

Q. Is playing at home in Brisbane, does it make you more emotional?
JOHN MILLMAN: Yeah, it just drains you a little bit more. There is, you know, fielding a lot of questions from friends, family. Long days every day for me. I had some pretty late finishes. The days where I wasn't playing singles I was playing some doubles.

Physically, like I said, physically I'm really happy with where my body is at. But, yeah, Brisbane is just probably one of those places where when I play there, you know, you're just a little bit flat when you finish.

But it's good to get that one out of the way today. Obviously it's a bit of pressure, too, playing a young up-and-coming Australian player, big talent, Alexei. Yeah, happy to get that one out of the way, and I've got another couple of days here in Sydney to pick things up and get another hopefully -- well, at least one more match. It would be nice to have a few more.

Q. I think you have got Gilles in the next one. That doesn't get any easier for you, does it?
JOHN MILLMAN: Definitely not. I actually had groin surgery in February last year, and before that when my summer was completely out of the picture because my body wasn't good enough, I actually called his grand final match. I was doing the World Team feed commentating there.

Fantastic to actually see him win. I think that was his first title last year here in Sydney, so he obviously likes playing here.

Gilles is actually a top guy. He and I hit actually a little bit every now and again. You know, he's always very approachable when I try and hunt hits, and he's one of those guys that always has a bit of time to hit with me. So I think he's a great guy.

It's going to be a tough match. He's a top player, and, yeah, really looking forward to competing against him on -- I'd say it would probably be Wednesday.

Q. So you obviously analyze players you will come up against, but when you're commentating on someone's match, does that give you an even better insight, or...
JOHN MILLMAN: I think so. A little bit, yeah. Definitely. You just get to look at it from a different way. Sometimes when you're on the court it can be very internal.

You know, when you don't have that pressure and you can kind of take a step away from the court, you definitely probably pick up a few things. I don't know off the top of my head what Gilles was doing. He was playing some bloody good tennis, I'd say. But, you know, he's -- I mean, Gilles, playing against him, he's got, in my opinion, one of the best in terms of tricky serves in the world of tennis.

We saw what he did at Wimbledon, too. You know, even someone like Rafa, with all his experience, I think he struggled with it, too.

You know what you're going to get with Gilles. You really have to take care of your service games, and you might get a couple of little half chances in his service games and they will be very few and far between. You have to execute extremely well when you get those little sniffs.

Yeah, I honestly do believe he's got one of the best serves in men's games. It makes it even more complicated that he's a lefty and can swing it so much. Yeah, it's going to be a fun match. It's one of those tough matches. It's always tough playing against a guy who only gives you one or two chances. Doesn't give you a whole lot of rhythm because of that.

It's going to be good fun, and I really look forward to playing against him.

Q. Having been restricted during the summer last year, does that make you even more determined to have a really good Australian season this time around?
JOHN MILLMAN: Definitely. It really hurt not being able to be out on court over the Australian summer last year. You know, I have obviously had my fair share of injuries, but I think every time you're out, when you come back and all of the hard work you do to come back, it just makes you appreciate, you know, this game all the more.

I'm appreciating being able to play over the Australian summer. I'm appreciating being able to play in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne. I'm also extremely grateful with where I'm at with my game and also where I'm at physically right now. It's really nice to be ticking those two boxes, heading into the Australian summer and be carrying it on to, you know, obviously on to Melbourne, which is our Grand Slam. Yeah, I'm feeling confident with how I'm progressing and how I'm tracking.

Q. A lot of Aussie players have talked about sort of the close-knit sort of group that you have formed, sort of with Lleyton driving that. Has that been helpful to you, as well?
JOHN MILLMAN: Yeah, look, Davis Cup was obviously something that was very helpful to me last year and getting the confidence, being selected to play there, I think that's probably more so for me. Yeah, it was unbelievable experience being able to represent my country and represent those guys there.

I think, you know, I'm from Queensland a little bit more, so the guys there, the playing group there have been great. You know, we have our group chat there for those guys up there, so it was great being able to come home and do my preseason up in Brisbane and with the boys there, and obviously Davis Cup around the corner, it will be great to be given a run there.

But where tennis is heading right now, I think it's extremely strong. I think there's a lot of guys knocking on the door. We obviously saw Alexei today, Alex last week. We have really got a lot of guys I think that can be in and around that top 100, and I think when you get more numbers around there, I think it just pushes more and more guys on.

Yeah, I think tennis, the men's side of tennis in a great spot -- women, too. Obviously I'm just talking about the men's because I'm a guy, but I think it's just in a very good spot. I think it's that competition and that strength in numbers that's pushing this game forward.

Q. Is the Davis Cup, putting yourself forward for selection this year, is that in your mind in the next...
JOHN MILLMAN: Definitely. I think you want to be playing those matches, don't you? You want to be playing for your country. I think there is no greater honor than playing for your country, whether it's at Davis Cup or an Olympics. I have been fortunate enough now to do both.

Definitely it's something that drives you, but, you know, I have always been of the opinion that if I'm ticking the boxes and doing the right things, you know, these weeks and on to the Australian Open, then I will be in and around that mark.

If I get selected, that's great. If I don't, it's not the end of the world, you know. I think it's going to be an extremely tough tie, and I think those boys, I think the guys that do get selected will deserve their spots.

For me, if I'm not selected, I'm probably doing my part in terms of playing some more at tennis right now and spurring those boys on. I'm sure they are looking at it, going, okay, yeah, I've got to play good tennis, because, you know, no spot is guaranteed or anything. I think that doing my part is, even if I don't get selected, is playing some good tennis and hopefully firing up some of the other boys to, you know, draw the line in the sand and hopefully that they are fired up and using that as motivation to, you know, leapfrog me.

Q. Because you all get more opportunity to press your claims at this time, don't you, have more access to the tournaments?
JOHN MILLMAN: Definitely. I think that's something that perhaps -- I mean, it's obviously tough with ATP events in Australia, but I think it's something, you know, I have always been passionate about, the fact that we probably need more tournaments in Australia. I don't think we have enough challengers here. I think we need more tournaments here.

I think Australians, I think if you just run the numbers, I think we do well in Australia, whether that's in ATP events -- you saw Alex last week. I thought that was fantastic. It's nice to play in comfortable environments, in your home place. And even the challengers at the end of the year -- I was looking at some of the guys do so well there.

I think Jason Kubler won a challenger in Playford just last week. I think he won one in Traralgon. We have guys who, when they play in their backyard, they play extremely good tennis. I think we need more access to that and more tournaments here in Australia.

It's obviously a long way to travel for us when we finish playing here. So, yeah, it would be really nice if we get more opportunity and more guys knocking on the door, pushing each other along. I think that's only positive.

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