London, Great Britain, 27 June 2022 | Leigh Rogers

When James Duckworth learned he had drawn two-time champion Andy Murray in the opening round at Wimbledon this year, his initial reaction was excitement.

“I just thought, you know, it will be cool to play on a big court,” said Duckworth, who is making his sixth main draw appearance at the All England Club.

“I haven’t played on Centre Court or No.1 Court before at Wimbledon. I have played on Court No.2. That was the main thing, I cannot wait to get out there and experience it. That is why you play tennis: to play in those environments.”

Duckworth has got his wish, with his showdown with the former world No.1 scheduled on Centre Court today.

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“I have always loved watching him play. As a young player, I watched him,” Duckworth said of 35-year-old Murray.

“I have played him a couple of times, I played him once at the US Open and once in Brisbane. He is an incredible player, has had an amazing career. Still going strong. It is very cool to see him still going with the injury he has had on his hip. He is someone I looked up to. He has been through a lot physically … someone like that is pretty inspirational.”

Duckworth understands the resilience and dedication required to overcome injury setbacks, having had 10 surgeries throughout his own career.

“Personally, I just love tennis. It’s a lot of fun, I enjoy the competition, I enjoy pushing myself, I enjoy the one-on-one battle. That is why,” Duckworth explained of his perseverance.

The 30-year-old’s most recent surgery was to repair a labral tear on his hip in January, which was performed by the same Melbourne-based surgeon that operated on Murray’s hip in 2018.

After rising to a career-high world No.46 in 2021, spending four months sidelined at the start of this year was a disappointing setback for Duckworth.

“I was playing pretty well at the end of last year. To have that momentum stopped was tough, but I am back now and slowly getting a bit better each week,” said Duckworth, who returned to the tour in May and is currently ranked No.74.

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World No.52 Murray, who now plays with a metal hip, recently scored his first top-10 win on grass in almost six years and was a finalist at an ATP 250 grass-court tournament at Stuttgart.

“It is great to see someone like him come out the other side,” Duckworth said.

“Not knowing if you can come back? Having a few question marks about your body? It is something definitely I can empathise with.”

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