Inside knowledge the key for Duckworth
For Wimbledon debutant James Duckworth, the setting may be unfamiliar but his first-round opponent, Denis Kudla, isn't.
For Wimbledon debutant James Duckworth, the setting may be unfamiliar but his first-round opponent, Denis Kudla, isn’t.
“We’ve grown up together playing the juniors,” Duckworth told tennis.com.au. “We’re the same age, we’ve practiced together a lot, he’s a solid player – a good baseliner, strong off both sides from the back and it’ll be a tough battle.
“I’m going to have to play well and fight hard. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Like Kudla, Duckworth forced his way into the main draw through the qualifying rounds. It gives both players the advantage of having played three matches on grass – a handy lead-in before the third Grand Slam of the year.
Duckworth knocked out 10th seed Dusan Lajovic, Agustin Velotti and 31st seed Michael Berrer on his way to the main draw and is feeling good about his chances this week in the main draw.
“It was a great few days at Roehampton, I played some really good tennis and it’s been a great few days practicing here and I’m looking forward to playing on Tuesday.”
While Duckworth’s surface of choice is clay, he’s also comfortable on the grass where he likes to play an attacking brand of tennis – something his opponents are not always comfortable with.
Duckworth is one of six Australian men to make it through to the main draw, which also includes Matt Reid – another Wimbledon freshman and Duckworth’s housemate while contesting The Championships.
“We’ve got an Aussie corner in the locker room and we’re all trying to rally behind each other and push each other to get better.”
As well as honing his grass skills in the qualifying rounds, Duckworth has also been hard at work on the practice courts with Tour players including Radek Stepanek and former champion Lleyton Hewitt.
“There’s a lot of tradition and history here and it’s been great practicing on the courts and hanging out with the top players, it should be a lot of fun playing this week.”
“He’s [Hewitt] always trying to help me out with guys I’m playing against or practicing with me. I came here a few days after [the] French Open and I practiced with him. He got me on site and it was a lot of fun and a great experience.”
With his preparation behind him, Duckworth is now focused on Kudla, a player he has beaten in the past, including last year on on clay but Duckworth admits that Kudla will be a much tougher proposition on grass.
Following Wimbledon Duckworth will travel to Italy for some Challenger events on his preferred clay surface as he continues his push towards the top 100. Currently ranked No.174 after starting the year at No.209, Duckworth has a way to go, but he has a plan to get there.
“If I fix my game, work on a few areas, [and] the ranking will take care of itself.”