Tennis star John Millman reveals hidden rip-offs on ATP Tour – as well as a brutal Rafael Nadal snub

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Aussie tennis stalwart John Millman was always a battler on the ATP tour, and he’s revealed exactly why players like him always get ripped off as superstars like Rafael Nadal get preferential treatment. 

The 33-year-old, whose career highlights include winning his first ATP title in 2020 (Astana Open) and beating Roger Federer in the fourth, is currently ranked 243rd in the world – and the Queenslander is sick of he and other battlers receiving the raw end of the stick.

As the French Open throws up some incredible upsets at Roland-Garros – world no. 2 Daniil Medvedev was knocked out by the 172-ranked Thiago Seybouth Wild – Millman has spilled the beans on why underdog victories have become rarer in modern tennis.

As his beloved Maroons prepare to do battle in the State of Origin opener, Millman said he has always been a fan of a good underdog story, and as an Aussie battler he took that spirit into matches against more talented and higher-ranked players.

But he believes the ATP Tour isn’t giving all players a fair go, accusing the game’s biggest professional body of disregarding the needs of players who aren’t named Novak Djokovic, Medvedev or Nadal. 

Aussie stalwart John Millman, whose career highlight was beating legend Roger Federer in the fourth round of the US Open in 2018 (he's pictured celebrating after the upset win), has taken aim at tennis organisers

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Aussie stalwart John Millman, whose career highlight was beating legend Roger Federer in the fourth round of the US Open in 2018 (he’s pictured celebrating after the upset win), has taken aim at tennis organisers

Millman (right) says that the playing field is not even on the ATP tour, with players like him and Cameron Norrie (left, the pair pictured on court 18 at Wimbledon) getting the raw end of the stick when it comes to practicing at major tournaments

Millman (right) says that the playing field is not even on the ATP tour, with players like him and Cameron Norrie (left, the pair pictured on court 18 at Wimbledon) getting the raw end of the stick when it comes to practicing at major tournaments

The Aussie, pictured after bombing out of the 2020 Australian Open, said seeded players had significant advantages, making upset wins now very rare

The Aussie, pictured after bombing out of the 2020 Australian Open, said seeded players had significant advantages, making upset wins now very rare

And it starts and begins with practicing at tournaments, with seeded players like Djokovic given much better conditions and locations than lower-ranked players, some of whom he claims aren’t even allowed to train at the venue. 

‘The most significant advantage a seeded player will receive is practice court allocation,’ Millman explained in a News Corp article.

Often at tournaments these players are allowed to book practice courts before anyone else, sometimes for two or three hours alone at a time.

‘On the flip side their counterparts often are sharing. Four a court for one hour onsite and lucky if they get a second hour timeslot much later in the day.

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‘They should consider themselves lucky if they even get a court at the venue. Many times you are ordered offsite to practice and on a surface with a totally different court speed.’

Millman says it means players such as him, are already at a disadvantage when it comes to major tournaments. 

They don’t have as much time to train and recover, and may get a quarter of the practice time high-ranked players get. You even get less balls.

The Aussie gave a brutal example of this in action, describing a savage snub he received after organising a hit on centre court with Nadal at the famed Indian Wells tournament in 2020.

Millman even detailed a brutal snubbing he received by Indian Wells officials in 2020 when they preferred to keep centre court empty when Rafael Nadal (left, pictured with the Aussie in 2017) had to pull out of their scheduled practice

Millman even detailed a brutal snubbing he received by Indian Wells officials in 2020 when they preferred to keep centre court empty when Rafael Nadal (left, pictured with the Aussie in 2017) had to pull out of their scheduled practice

Being able to practice with a player of Nadal’s esteem is a huge win for someone like Millman, but when the Spaniard had to pull out, the organisers literally preferred than no one to be training on centre court than the Aussie and another lower-ranked player.

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‘When the tournament found out that I still planned to use the court with a lesser-known player, they told me that because I was a nobody, I wouldn’t be allowed entry on the court,’ Millman said.

‘It’s hard to believe but they’d rather have the court empty than have a few ‘no names’ hit on their precious bitumen.’

With this year’s French Open now in full swing, the atmosphere is buzzing at Roland-Garros. 

Millman, pictured practicing at Wimbledon, says lower-ranked players are getting ripped off on the ATP Tour

Millman, pictured practicing at Wimbledon, says lower-ranked players are getting ripped off on the ATP Tour

There has been a few unusual pairings on the practice courts – though as Millman probably suspected they are all well-known players, not a battler in sight. 

Two of America’s top players of each gender – Coco Gauff and Francis Tiafoe – hit the courts in the lead-up, while two star men at very different stages of their career also practiced together: Carlos Alcaraz and Stan Wawrinka. 

Aussies Jason Kubler, Storm Sanders and Thanasi Kokkinakis will all be in action on Wednesday night (AEST) for their second round clashes on the famed clay courts at Roland-Garros. 

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