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January 8, 2019

John Millman

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

J. MILLMAN/F. Tiafoe

4-6, 7-6, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Looked like you were in trouble after that first set, and you turned it around.
JOHN MILLMAN: Yeah. Look, it was going to be a tough match from the very start. I've played Frances twice. We have split matches. I had a really tough one with him in Atlanta, like a really tough match, and I knew it was going to be physical. He's a great athlete.

To be honest with you, I'm probably a little bit under the weather, and that happens throughout the year. You know, you don't wake up feeling amazing every day. I thought it was really important to win that first set, so it was a bit annoying that I couldn't win the first one. And I knew if I was going to win I was going to have to go the distance.

But I used the crowd, used the energy of the place. I love feeding off the crowd and feeding off the energy, and especially to get to do that when you're in Australia. You know, the crowd is all the more vocal, and it's, you know, that's what it's about.

Managed to play really good, I thought, at the back end of that second set. Played some good tennis there, and I thought it was a pretty high-quality match for the spectator. I thought Frances was playing great tennis too. Obviously we all know how talented he is and just how bright his future is.

So really happy to get another match underneath my belt, a tight one like that. That gives you confidence moving forward, and happy to extend my stay in Sydney.

Q. Under the weather, you have a cold?
JOHN MILLMAN: Yeah, look, probably a bit of man flu. No, look, you know, just the throat, the nose, pretty congested. Just, you know, with that comes a bit of dizziness when you're trying to run around. It was pretty warm out there.

When the cloud cover came, it wasn't so bad. That happens. It's no excuses. If I lost, it's no excuse. When I take to the court, I take to the court to compete at 100%, and I thought I could so I went out there and did so.

Yeah, look, hopefully I'm a bit better tomorrow, and hopefully I can build into this tournament and then obviously on to the Australian Open.

To do a normal job -- not a normal job, but to do an everyday job where you don't have to be so physical, it would probably be all right. But it's not ideal when you are playing those physical points and that. But I have come and handled worse things before.

Q. Were you close to pulling out?
JOHN MILLMAN: Look, I actually did talk to the team, you know, like about -- with me, it's a matter of, you know, and I have done that in the past, I only want to really walk on the court if I feel like I can compete at 100. Went out to hit this morning. Look, it wasn't overly easy, that's for sure. Look, that's part and parcel of it.

You know, it's one of those things that, like I said, everyday thing that, you know, we have all had, but when you are competing at this high-end level, you know, you need those little -- you know, tennis is a game of fine margins. As you saw in that, there was only a few points that -- I think I might have won two or three more points than Frances at the end of the day, so you need those fine margins.

Look, the opportunity to play in Australia, for me, is really important. I love playing here, and I love playing in Brisbane, I love playing in Sydney, I love playing in Melbourne. Outside from Davis Cup, we get three tournaments a year. That's it. So it would have to be a bit more to knock me out. That's what I came to the conclusion.

Really happy I went out there, and I just tried to leave it all out there. Even if I lost, I probably would have been pretty proud, because I really did -- I didn't have much left. I thought we both left it out there.

Like I said, I've got a lot of respect for Frances. I think he's a top, top player. He's lucky he's young and he's got a long, long future ahead of him. So I'll take this one.

Q. I think you could have played James, but he lost.

Q. Do you know much about Marton?
JOHN MILLMAN: Yeah, look, we played I think on grass a while back. I think he's a great hard court player, though. Great talent, great ball striker, really good forehand, just a clean hitter of the ball.

I would have loved to have played James. I've trained with him in Brissy. If he stays fit and healthy, he will be back inside top hundred. He's been there and he's done that. I've seen how hard Ducks has worked to get back here and how many hurdles he's had to face.

I would have loved to have played him. It would have been -- we are good friends, so that would have been really nice to have shared the court with him.

But Marton is going to be tough. He's a really tough assignment. Like I said, he's a very clean ball striker, great forehand, really solid backhand. You've got to really take the game to him; otherwise he can dictate passage of play.

You know, he's one of those guys that probably flies under the radar a bit like a lot of us do, because obviously our sport is quite top-end heavy. The big boys, as they should, they take the headlines a little bit. But Marton is a top, top player. He's going to be a really tough assignment here.

Q. Is it a risk if you manage to get deep this week but you don't quite recover?
JOHN MILLMAN: Oh, I think it's a bit of a win-win. That's how I approach it. If I play a tournament a week before a slam, I think it's a win-win. I think if you can get matches, get wins, get points, I think that's great.

You know, when I step on court, I want to give 100%. I'd love nothing more than to go deep this week, really.

I guess another time I went deep a week before a tournament was in Winston-Salem where you actually play an extra match because it's a bigger draw. I made semis that year in really tough conditions, hotter than this.

I did lose first round, but I played against Dominic Thiem, and I thought I played a rippin' match, and I think it was 6-3 or 6-4 in the fifth set. So I don't think it's a bad thing. I feel if my body is good, especially early on in the season, I think getting those matches under your belt I think is actually quite good preparation.

I like going into slams, even though maybe at the U.S. I went into it not winning anything, but I like going into slams, you know, with a few runs on the board. I'm a guy who likes to get down on the practice court. I want to get hours in on the practice court when my body allows.

So there is no better way, especially early on in the season after having quite a long layoff, to get those, to get matches, to get that. There is no better practice. Trust me, I'd rather be here than in Melbourne too early. Yeah, for sure.

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