Roger Federer left his fans and all tennis followers gasping for breath as he sneaked past Aussie John Millman into the fourth round of Australian Open on Friday after a scintillating contest at the Rod Laver Arena.
Federer was far from his best and made 82 unforced errors in the match but a six straight points-streak in the fifth set tiebreak helped him eke out a 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(8) over Millman.
38-year-old Federer and 30-year-old Millman battled for four hours and three minutes, where the Aussie looked unplayable for most part of the match before Federer had "a bit of luck" going his way.
While Federer is definitely used to having the entire crowd cheering for him, he had to be content with a split crowd on Friday, where the local Millman was being cheered in equal.
It was an exciting but exhausting watch for most with even Federer's wife Mirka looking tensed and out of breath at time. Millman's countryman Nick Kyrgios took to Twitter to react to the match in three words, hinting towards his breathlessness.
I feel sick— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) January 24, 2020
Virender Sehwag and Pankaj Advani also took to Twitter to express themselves after the match.
100 not out.January 24, 2020
ROGER FEDERER you 38yr old beauty! Still teaching us to NEVER GIVE UP because it's never over till it's over..! How did he win that?
Feel for Millman, he played so well!January 24, 2020
Mirka's reactions throughout the match were well-recorded and fans felt her reactions absolutely represented what all of them felt seeing Federer's topsy-turvy game.
I was ageing very fast the last hours.....thank you #federer??— Brian (@camerlengo73_2) January 24, 2020
(Eurosport) pic.twitter.com/487oBHGl6u— Wendy redRobin (@Wendy_redRobin) January 24, 2020
Federer regularly practices with Millman and a fan even took to Twitter to ask Federer to stop hitting with the Australian as Millman remains the only Aussie to have defeated Federer in a Grand Slam event in the past decade.
The win handed him not only a 100th victory at Melbourne Park but gave him the distinction of becoming the only player, man or woman, to post a century of victories at two different Slams.
The Swiss great notched three figures at Wimbledon last year.
He is one of only four players in the 100 club -- Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon, and Chris Evert and Serena Williams at the US Open are the others.
But it nearly didn't happen against the 47th ranked Australian Millman, who memorably beat Federer over four gruelling sets in the round of 16 at the US Open in 2018.
One of the fittest players on tour, Millman matched Federer game for game in the opening set until the ninth, when he pounced, converting a second break point when he pounded a forehand winner.
The 38-year-old Federer was struggling to find his rhythm and quickly found himself 5-2 down. He then easily held serve before breaking back with a phenomenal backhand down the line as Millman was serving for the set.
But Federer then blew it, broken to love thanks to poor serving to hand Millman a one-set lead.
Millman was serving well and cracking big forehands and Federer didn't have any answers, with the second set going to serve until a crucial tiebreak when the Swiss stepped up in the pressure-cooker atmosphere, taking his game to another level.
With his confidence restored, he wrestled control of the third set, but Millman refused to give up and came roaring back, excelling in the baselines rallies to break for a 4-3 lead and take the match into a deciding fifth set.
They shared breaks in the tense decider and it went to a tiebreak with Federer looking dead and buried at 8-4 down.
But he stayed calm and somehow hauled himself back to win a Grand Slam classic.
(With AFP inputs)