Paris, France, 3 November 2021 | Leigh Rogers

James Duckworth has eliminated world No.20 Roberto Bautista Agut in the opening round at the Paris Masters.

It is the 29-year-old Australian’s third career win against a top 20-ranked opponent, all of which have been recorded during a career-best 2021 season.

Duckworth served 12 aces to post a steely 6-4 5-7 7-6(4) victory in his tournament debut, impressively holding his nerve in the high-pressure final stages against the experienced 33-year-old Spaniard.

It is Duckworth’s fifth main draw win of the season at an ATP Masters 1000 tournament. He began the season with two wins in total at that level, highlighting his remarkable improvement over the past 12 months.

It propels world No.55-ranked Duckworth into a second-round clash with Italian lucky loser Lorenzo Musetti.

Australia’s Alexei Popyrin has also taken advantage of a lucky loser spot in the draw. The 22-year-old was a late replacement for South African Lloyd Harris and stunned top-ranked Australian Alex de Minaur 6-0 6-3 in a 56-minute first-round clash.

Meanwhile, No.11 seed Diego Schwartzman needed three sets to overcome Australia’s John Millman. The Argentine eventually prevailed 7-6(2) 5-7 6-2 in their hard-fought opening-round clash.

Aussies in action – Paris

Men’s singles, first round
James Duckworth (AUS) d [14] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 6-4 5-7 7-6(4)
[LL] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) d Alex de Minaur (AUS) 6-0 6-3
[11] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) d John Millman (AUS) 7-6(2) 5-7 6-2

Men’s singles, second round
James Duckworth (AUS)
v [LL] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA)
[LL] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) v [3] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)

Men’s doubles, second round
[6] John Peers (AUS)/Filip Polasek (SVK) v [WC] Novak Djokovic (SRB)/Filip Krajinovic (SRB)