John Millman and Roger Federer after their epic match. Picture: Getty Images
John Millman and Roger Federer after their epic match. Picture: Getty Images

Pat Cash slams ball-tampering accusation against Millman

PAT Cash has described ball-tampering accusations against John Millman as "absolute crap" following the Queenslander's epic Australian Open loss to Roger Federer.

Respected coach and former player Sven Groeneveld questioned Millman's habit of rubbing balls against his shirt before serving - a legal practice employed by generations of players, including grand slam champions.

"Millman applying the old trick in speeding up the first serve by rolling the ball on his (I assume) wet shirt before he serves?" Groeneveld posted on Twitter.

"Is that legal in tennis I know it's not in other ball sports like cricket and baseball? Do we have a rule in tennis?

"The ball skids through first and throws of the timing of your opponent not only on the one serve but it disturbs the consistency of your timing on other shots."

Cash dismissed questions over the legality of Millman's actions and theories about how the ball was affected.

"It's absolute crap," the 1987 Wimbledon champion said.

"Rubbing the ball on a sweaty shirt has very little effect on the ball, if any effect all.

"It's more to smooth the cover of the ball down. It becomes a habit for some players.

"John Newcombe and lots of our great champions used to do back in the day when the ball quality probably wasn't as good.

"To me, it's no different to a player keeping a ball in the pockets of sweaty shorts.

"How does that affect anything? It's crap.

"Cricketers are allowed to use sweat and saliva on the ball to help it swing. That's legal.

"Using sweat on a tennis ball does virtually nothing. It might make it fractionally heavier but it would have no impact on the receiver.

"It's bullshit."

There is no rule in International Tennis Federation regulations that forbids players from rubbing balls with sweat, directly or indirectly.

Cash said the focus on "a non-issue" detracted from "a fantastic performance by a player who is really inspiring".

"What John Millman has done to get himself to this level is amazing," Cash said.

"He deserves everything he gets. He is a great competitor and he has the respect of the locker room.

"Roger respects him, as we all do."

Former Australian doubles star Todd Woodbridge replied to Groeneveld, appearing to come to the defence of Millman.

"What happens when you put it in the pocket of your wet shorts?" Woodbridge asked.