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The Roar


'Absolute disgrace': Fans launch at TA over 'scandalous' call to deny Millman AO wildcard after qualifying loss

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11th January, 2024

Thursday afternoon at Melbourne Park was the last stand in singles for John Millman, the Australian stalwart’s lengthy career cut short before he could secure a grand slam main draw farewell with a 6-4, 6-3 loss to Alex Molcan in the second round of Australian Open qualifying.

While the tone around Court 3 was one of thanks for a great career as Millman bowed out with typical good grace, thanking the supporters and his own team while praising Molcan’s performance, the reaction on social media was of a very different nature.

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Despite announcing before the summer of tennis had begun that it was going to be his swansong, Tennis Australia controversially chose not to award the 34-year old a wildcard entry into the main draw.

Millman’s protected ranking after a series of injuries in 2023 saw him fall outside the top 400 only allowed him to enter for the qualifying tournament, forcing him to need to win three games to so much as reach the last 128.

While criticism of the decision was muted while the veteran’s dream stayed alive, things came to a head after his loss to Molcan, with a post on X by the Australian Open’s official platform copping both barrels.


The Millman controversy adds to what has been among the more widely criticised set of wildcards of tournament director Craig Tiley’s tenure, with the top-ranked Australian woman Arina Rodionova slamming TA after her own snub.

As is standard practice, eight wildcard spots were offered for direct entry into the main draw for players who would not otherwise qualify, with five Australian men – James McCabe, Marc Polmans, Adam Walton, Jason Kubler and James Duckworth – instead getting the nod.

Tennis Australia also has an arrangement with the French and United States tennis boards where each grants wildcard spots to the other two nations at their respective home grand slams.

Millman received a wildcard into the 2023 Australian Open, but one was not forthcoming in 2024 – though in typical Millman fashion, he only responded to Rodionova’s snub, saying on the ABC Tennis podcast he was ‘baffled’ by her being overlooked.

Following Rodionova’s strong criticism after her own qualifying loss, where she claimed that she was ‘not liked’ by the sporting body, Tiley claimed the decision was nothing personal.

John Millman.

John Millman’s Australian Open qualifying loss was the last of his 18-year career. (Photo: Chris Putnam/Future Publishing via Getty Images)


“There’s lots of things that go into consideration [for a wildcard]: the age, the form coming in, how many matches they’ve played and what they’ve done over the last 12 months, who they compare to,” he said on Monday.

Millman bows out with the distinction of being the only Australian to defeat tennis icon Roger Federer in a grand slam singles draw in the 21st century, with a stunning triumph in sweltering conditions in the fourth round of the 2018 US Open.

That win would grant the journeyman his first and only grand slam quarter-final appearance, where he lost in straight sets to Novak Djokovic.

He came agonisingly close to an even greater victory over Federer in the third round of the 2020 Australian Open, when he led the deciding best of 10 match tie-break 8-4 only for the Swiss maestro to pull it out of the fire.

Speaking after his final match, Millman admitted he’d have preferred to have secured his finest win on home soil rather than at Flushing Meadows.

“I would have loved to reverse it and actually beaten him [Federer] here at the Australian Open when I lost in five,” he said.

“But there’s been plenty of highs. That’s probably not the highlight of my career.


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“Any time I could dress up in the green and gold in the Davis Cup in particular and Olympic Games, those are the moments that I really enjoyed, and they’re the ones that will probably stick with me.”