Duckworth digs deep to stay alive at Open
James Duckworth has triumphed over fellow Aussie wildcard and best mate Ben Mitchell.
James Duckworth has every right to bags the biggest bed in his Melbourne hotel room after advancing to round two of the Australian Open with a marathon win over his great mate Ben Mitchell.
The 20-year-old Sydneysider overcame Mitchell, from the Gold Coast, in a five-set, first-round encounter 6-4 7-6(8) 4-6 5-7 8-6 on Tuesday.
He will next face Slovenian world No.93 Blaz Kavcic, who ousted Brazilian 29th seed Thomaz Bellucci in straight sets.
Other Australians to fall in the first round on Tuesday included fellow wildcards Luke Saville and John-Patrick Smith while Australian No.2 Marinko Matosevic continued his dire run of of 0-8 at Grand Slams with a 6-4 7-5 6-2 loss to Croatian 12th seed Marin Cilic.
Duckworth is sharing a hotel room with 18-year-old Saville, who lost to Japanese veteran Go Soeda 6-7 (7) 6-3 6-2 6-3, with Mitchell staying on the floor below.
Being the first Australian male winner to book a second round spot and after toiling for four hours and 26 minutes – an hour more than his previous longest match – Duckworth surely deserves the biggest bed.
But he said he was reluctant to switch.
“Luke actually has the biggest bed but I think I might keep the same routine,” Duckworth said.
“He lost in the big bed so perhaps it’s not such a good bed.”
Cheered by quacks from some raucous sections of the packed crowd, he said he felt mixed emotions beating Mitchell.
“Benny’s one of my closest mates on tour and I’ve known him since I was about 10,” he said.
“We practice together, we’ve had the same coach for the last couple of years.
“It’s tough playing someone you’re so close to because you want the best for them as well but you’ve got a job to do.”
Mitchell said it was difficult that the match was decided by just a few points.
“I fought to the end, which is something I can be proud of,” he said.
Duckworth, whose grandmother Beryl Penrose won the event in 1955, has a prime opportunity to top last year’s second round effort after Bellucci’s exit.
“Kavcic is still a quality player,” he said.
“I’ve practiced with him a few times and he’s a solid baseliner who doesn’t miss much so it’s going to be tough.”
Saville, who last year won the Australian Open junior tournament, felt he was able to match Soeda on the tennis front but was let down by his fitness.
He had to call for the trainer twice in the third set suffering cramping in his quads.
“I played a good first set and was in there early in the second but he started to get on top,” Saville said.
“I was struggling physically in the third and fourth which is very disappointing.”
Smith was also making his grand slam debut and was outclassed by Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-4 6-1 6-4.