Determined Duckworth ready for all-Australian battle at US Open
Australian James Duckworth faces compatriot Chris O'Connell in the US Open 2022 opening round.
It is hard to compare bustling New York to the much-quieter Brisbane, yet James Duckworth almost feels at home competing at the US Open.
The world No.83 is set to make his seventh main draw appearance at Flushing Meadows, an annual stop on the tennis calendar he looks forward to each year.
“I’m lucky that I’ve got some family here. My brother lives (in New York), so it’s always nice to catch up with him every year,” explained Duckworth, whose brother Nick owns three restaurants in the city.
This year their father, David, has also made the trip to New York.
“He’s doing the two-for-one and catches up with both of us,” said Duckworth.
New York’s humid summer conditions add to a sense of familiarity for Duckworth, who grew up in Sydney but has trained and lived in Brisbane for a number of years.
“I really like playing here,” said Duckworth. “Usually the courts are pretty fast and it’s hot. I feel like it suits an aggressive game style, that’s the way I like to play.”
When the 30-year-old steps on court for his first-round match this year, he’ll be facing fellow Australian Chris O’Connell.
Although it is only their second career meeting, and first in more than seven years, they are good friends and often train together.
“It’s obviously difficult to play another Aussie, he’s a good friend of mine too,” Duckworth said.
“It’s going to be a really tough match. He’s playing some good tennis. We’re both going to go out there and compete as hard as we can, and the better player will win.”
Wins have been few and far between for Duckworth this season. After undergoing hip surgery in January and being sidelined for four months, he has recorded just four tour-level main draw victories since returning in May.
“It’s been a pretty tough season for me, just with the hip and coming back from that,” he admitted. “I feel like I’ve played some pretty average tennis for the most part, but that’s the way it goes when you’re coming back from injury.”
In a promising sign, Duckworth scored his best win of the season against fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis at Winston-Salem last week.
“It was probably the best performance I’ve put in since my hip (surgery),” said Duckworth.
“I feel like I’m moving pretty well as well. So I’m really happy and hoping to keep building.”
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