Duckworth embracing the challenge
James Duckworth hopes to continue his breakout season with a successful start at the US Open on Tuesday against Korean teen Hyeon Chung.
James Duckworth hopes to continue his breakout season with a successful start at the US Open on Tuesday.
The Sydneysider, who broke into the world’s top 100 in March this year and peaked at 82nd in April, opens the year’s final major event with a winnable match against Korean teen Hyeon Chung.
Playing more regularly against the best players at top-level ATP tournaments, Duckworth said he relished opportunities to contest the game’s crown-jewel events.
“It’s nice to be direct (entry) into all these Grand Slams. It’s what you play for, to get to these big stages,” he said.
“I feel like I’ve had a solid year. I’ve improved a few different areas of my game and I’ve been able to have some consistent results which has enabled me to get inside the 100 and stay there.
“I’m really looking forward to this event. I’ve had a few good days here practising (and) conditions are good for me.”
Duckworth’s ascent has been made possible by several strong performances at Grand Slam and ATP events throughout the season.
The highlights were epic victories in the first round at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, yet he also reached two quarterfinals – in Brisbane and Nice – and qualified for Indian Wells and Miami, reaching the second round at both.
His second-round finish in Washington DC also turned heads – there he pushed world No.5 Kei Nishikori all the way before falling 6-4 in the third.
“I’ve embraced the challenge that the ATP events week in and week out bring. The level’s obviously consistently higher … I feel like I’m playing good tennis and when I’m playing well I can compete and win matches against all guys inside the top 100,” he said.
“I was happy with that performance (against Nishikori) … it gives me a lot of confidence to know that I can mix it with the best guys. I pushed him and he ended up winning the tournament.
“It was a good stepping stone I guess to push someone of that ranking. I’d like to put myself in those positions where I’m able to play those guys. I really enjoy seeing what I’m up against and seeing what I need to do to get better as well.
“I’d like to get a chance this week to hopefully play someone high up the rankings.”