After nearly eight months out with a groin injury. John Millman is back and looks to restore his winning ways at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Nottingham.
The Aussie, celebrating his 28th birthday on Wednesday (June 14), returned to competition last month and has been getting better with each tournament. Millman lost in the opening round of his first two events, but won a match last week at the Surbiton Challenger and is now through to the second round in Nottingham after a win on Tuesday over Hiroki Moriya of Japan.
“Coming back from injury is brutal, but I’m progressing pretty well. I was out for so long, so it’s just about trying to stay patient and getting a little bit better each time,” said Millman. “I’m not expecting to light it up just now, but as long as I keep improving and getting matches, it’s only a matter of time before I start emulating where I was at this time last year.”
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Millman’s injury woes couldn’t have come at a worse time. He reached a career-high Emirates ATP Ranking of No. 60 in May 2016 and recorded his first ATP World Tour semi-final last August in Winston-Salem. But the groin problem that had been a niggling injury for months worsened dramatically in the latter part of the year, forcing him to cut his season short in October.
After finally getting a correct diagnosis in the beginning of 2017, Millman underwent surgery and began the necessary rehab to get back on tour.
Frustrating few months but back on track after successful surgery. Special thanks to Dr Garvey and the Duckworth’s for looking after me. pic.twitter.com/QFRY6x9PG5
Millman will take comfort in knowing he’s bounced back once before after going under the knife. After having shoulder surgery in 2014, he won back-to-back Challengers on his return in Traralgon and Yokohama, both of which came without losing a set. He went from outside the Top 1,000 to inside the Top 100 in less than a year.
“Any injury is a frustrating one. I’ve had two shoulder surgeries previously, so I’m not new to what it takes to come back after this,” sad Millman. “What made it a little more frustrating is that I was putting together a pretty good year, winning matches week in and week out at ATP World Tour events and competing against some of the world’s best players. But knowing there are major tournaments around the corner makes doing all the rehab and hard work a little bit easier.”
The Aussie has enjoyed success on the grass before, reaching the third round at Wimbledon last year before losing an entertaining match to World No. 1 Andy Murray. He said the amenities in Nottingham have provided everything he needs to continue building his game in the hopes of another big grass-court season.
“I’ve competed in a lot of Challenger events and this has to be right up there as one of the best I’ve played,” said Millman. “The four extra practice courts are a nice addition this year. It’s a great city and venue. There are great crowds that come out to watch and everything that goes on behind the scenes in terms of the organisation is at a very high level.”