John Millman stretches for a return against Grigor Dimitrov at the Brisbane International on Wednesday. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP
John Millman stretches for a return against Grigor Dimitrov at the Brisbane International on Wednesday. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP

Big scalp eludes Millman at Brisbane International

JOHN Millman's desire to have one last magic moment at the Brisbane International was terminated yesterday by world No.19 Grigor Dimitrov.

It is the last Brisbane International that Millman, 29, expects to play, as Tennis Australia plans to turn the event into a women's-only tournament from 2020, with ATP Cup matches for men from 24 nations in Brisbane and other cities in the week's slot.

Eliminated 6-3 6-4 by Dimitrov, the Brisbane right-hander was unable to sustain a sprinkling of the standard of tennis that helped him torpedo Roger Federer at the US Open.

Millman was down a set and two breaks of serve at 1-4 in the second set when he lifted his game to get to 4-4 and hold two points for a 5-4 lead.

But sixth seed Dimitrov imposed himself again to book a quarter-final tomorrow against world No.9 Kei Nishikori - a 7-5 6-2 winner over American Denis Kudla.

A near capacity crowd of 4000 at Pat Rafter Arena appreciated the hometown favourite's efforts, but Millman had said in recent weeks he wanted a big scalp or an extended run at this Brisbane International.

The Australian No.3 and world No.37 had dragged Bulgaria's Dimitrov, then the world No.3, to three sets after having held match point in their second-round match at Pat Rafter Arena last year.

"I'm always going to fight,'' Millman said yesterday.

"I had a lot of momentum and then I thought I had a pretty unlucky break (to go behind 5-4 in the second set). I deserved to get broken the other two times.''

Millman will not get one of the 32 seedings at the Australian Open, having been unable to gain additional ranking points this week.

He is a direct entry into next week's Sydney International ahead the Australian Open from Monday week, when he says his experience will allow him to handle his elevated profile due to his win over Federer in New York.

"I haven't been seeded yet at a grand slam but I've managed to put in some good performances, and even if I run into one of the seeds I'll walk onto the court confident in my game that I can match it with nearly anyone,'' Millman said.

The Australian had been in line for the eighth seeding at the Brisbane International before a four-place drop in late November put him below No.35 Nick Kyrgios on the ATP rankings.

"I do want to have another good run soon to improve my ranking,'' Millman said.

"If you're seeded eighth here, you avoid playing Grigor in the second round - obviously that's what you want.

"I thought he played great tennis, stingy with his errors for a set and a half, very aggressive.''

Millman won only seven points in Dimitrov's five service games in the first set.

"I know what it was like last year and I didn't want to make the same mistake,'' Dimitrov said.

"He fights super hard."