LEXINGTON, August 3, 2015
John Millman knew he had a tough battle on his hands coming into the men’s singles championship match. He would face the Lexington Challenger’s hottest opponent, Yasutaka Uchiyama, who had beaten all the top seeded player up through this point in the tournament.
Millman, a 26 year old from Australia who is currently ranked #96 in the world, had made it to the finals of two previous Challenger events this year but came up on the losing end in each match. When having to face his opponent in the finals of the Lexington Challenger, Uchiyama, he knew that the grind was on, for Uchiyama had toppled all his opponents thus far as the underdog. Millman was entering the finals match at the #2 seeded player in the tournament while Uchiyama was the “Lucky Loser” who couldn’t lose.
“I knew he was playing extremely well and beating great players all tournament long. His ball striking and his service has been great all week long, that is a deadly combination. I was a little worried about how that was going to play into his hand for this championship match,” said Millman about his opponent.
Uchiyama is the first player in the history of the Lexington Challenger to make it to the finals as the “Lucky Loser” of the tournament. Quite an accomplishment given the competition he faced along the way.
The men’s final match was indeed a great competition. Millman won the first match by a break 6-3, only to have Uchiyama do the same in the second set, taking it 6-3. The third set went back and forth with each player grinding out long points and not succumbing to the other. Eventually Millman caught a glimpse of hope during the third set with the game score at 5-4. Uchiyama was serving at 30-30 and gave way to Millman, who hit an incredible lunging backhand slice to get to match Point.
When asked about getting to the break point for the match, Millman said, “I never give up, I try to chase down every ball that I can possibility get. I was very lucky that it came off as well as it did, I premeditated that shot as it came off the racquet. I hit it just about perfect and probably caught Uchiyama by surprise. Just relief in the end.”
Millman went on to break Uchiyama and win the men’s finals championship, 6-3 3-6 6-4.