How the ultimate team player found peace
As guilty as John Millman felt about his ATP Cup win over Felix Auger-Aliassime, the super-sub was glad to have buried the demons that have haunted him since his Davis Cup loss in November.
Hometown hero Millman proved a more than capable replacement for the injured Nick Kyrgios (back) with a 6-4 6-2 disposal of Auger-Aliassime at Pat Rafter Arena.
It was a case of déjà vu for the popular Queenslander, who also stepped in for a sidelined Kyrgios in Australia's Davis Cup quarter-final against the Canadians in Madrid less than two months ago.
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Canada prevailed 2-1 that day, with Millman blaming himself for Australia's exit after he was beaten 7-6 6-4 by Vasek Pospisil.
"I'm really glad I could get the win over Felix, and I did step up because it was really tough in Davis Cup when I got that loss," he said.
"I took that loss pretty hard and it ate at me throughout the pre-season.
"I didn't enjoy my holiday too much because I was probably thinking about that, so I'm really glad.
"I feel like it was a missed opportunity in Madrid, but somewhat just a slight bit vindicated with my performance (against Auger-Aliassime)."
But a true players' player, Millman admitted he felt uncomfortable with the victory in an "extra tournament" counting towards rankings points.
"I love the idea of team competitions, and I love the idea of the ATP Cup … but how many tournaments make up your points should be the same for everyone," he said.
"It's your top 18 tournaments (each year) that count (for rankings points).
"This is counted as an extra tournament, as is the Masters at the end of the year. So some guys get 20, some guys get 19, some guys get 18.
"Now I got the win, then, I get 19 tournaments and it doesn't sit well with me.
"If we have a meeting at the (upcoming) Australian Open and they say 'hey, guys, everyone gets the same amount of tournaments', I'll put my hand up and vote for that regardless of getting an extra tournament now."
But playing that additional tournament, and winning, in Brisbane meant the world to the parochial 30-year-old Queenslander.
"I was really enthusiastic about the prospect of turning the tables (on Canada), especially in front of a home crowd," Millman said.
"I can't thank the Queensland support that I've gotten not just at this tournament, but throughout my career.
"The Queensland tennis community, they get behind their players and they get behind each and every one of us, and I think that that's really special.
"I've always felt that that was the case here in Queensland for a long time.
"As long as I've been playing we're one big family up here and that's why I like playing here so much, because you look out in the crowd and you see a few different people that you might not have seen for a while, but they have been with you every step of that journey, from junior tennis all the way up to now and that what makes playing here so special."