Injured Millman withdraws from French Open

·3-min read

John Millman, one of the great fighters in tennis, has been left crestfallen after losing a battle with injury at the French Open that he did everything to combat.

Australia's No.2 men's player left it until the last moment before admitting defeat to the debilitating back problem that forced him to withdraw from the tournament in Paris just minutes before being due to play Italian Gianluca Mager on Monday morning .

The doughty Queenslander had been in constant pain for two days, requiring sleeping pills to just find some respite, but ultimately took the advice of medics who explained he could make the injury much worse if he competed.

Millman cut a dejected figure as he explained how he felt he had been in his best-ever shape to tackle the clay-court grand slam until suffering the injury two days earlier in a practice hit with compatriot Alex de Minaur.

"It's pretty constant pain, I haven't been sleeping, so I'd been taking sleeping pills to try to sleep. I've been battling," shrugged the 31-year-old.

"I got the medical experts - the ATP physios, the leading French osteopath here and the doctors - and I was headily medicated so I gave myself every opportunity.

"I warmed up this morning but it wasn't good enough to take to the court. I wasn't able to hit a high backhand, I wasn't able to serve and I wasn't able to move.

"I was told that if I played today, I could make it a lot worse than what it was and therefore a lot longer time out on the sidelines."

Millman reckoned it was an "incredibly disappointing" end to a period of training and preparation that had persuaded him he could do well at the grand slam where he'd never previously been able to win a match in five attempts.

He had been for an extended training spell in Alicante, where he'd been invited to stay with de Minaur, who had wanted to provide his friends Millman and Jordan Thompson with a home-from-home base at his Spanish sanctuary.

"I was really targeting this tournament. I'd extended training and tournament play on the clay and was more prepared this time than any other time coming into Roland Garros," said Brisbane stalwart Millman, who was due to play in his 24th grand slam.

"It's incredibly disappointing. I'm getting older now and I know I don't have a whole lot of these ones left.

"I've always battled with my lower back but this is a new injury.

"I've played a lot of matches in my career when I've been injured, torn things, and played through it, so I wanted to give myself every chance."

Indeed, he left his decision to withdraw so late that there was evident confusion for Mager on court as he waited for Millman to arrive and wondered what was going on.

The Australian's absence, though, eventually provided an opportunity for 'lucky loser' Peter Gojowczyk to scurry on as his eleventh-hour replacement.

Not too lucky, as it turned out, with the German qualifier failing to grab his second chance in a four-set loss to Mager.

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