Brisbane, Australia, 3 May 2024 | Jackson Mansell

Perseverance has been a defining quality of James Duckworth’s career.

It has helped the 32-year-old soar to incredible heights, peaking at world No.46 in singles and representing Australia in Davis Cup and at the Olympic Games.

The Brisbane-based athlete has also bounced back from multiple injury setbacks throughout his career, including surgery on his elbow, foot, shoulder and hip.

A resurgent Duckworth, who has tallied 20 wins already this season to verge on a top-100 return, provides an insight into his practice routines in our Train with the Pros series.

Do you have a favourite time of day to practice?

I like an 11am start. It’s not too early, so you can sort of wake up around 8am and get plenty of sleep.

How many hours, on average, would you spend on the practice court per week?

I would average probably 15 hours.

Do you have a favourite part of your game to work on?

Not sure I have a favourite part. I do enjoy constantly working on things that I’m not doing so well or things that I need to improve, so whatever it is for that particular week, or month, or day.

Do you have a least favourite part of your game to work on?

Not really, I quite like my job.

Can you remember the first professional player you had an opportunity to practice with?

I couldn’t really tell you. I remember when I was 16 or so hitting with Lleyton Hewitt for the first time, so he’s probably the most memorable.

What was that experience like?

Going to his house quite a few times for preseason in Sydney, the guy was an animal. He just trained the house down. What I do remember is he hardly took water breaks. It was pretty tough for the young guys hitting with him. We had to wait 30-40 minutes for a water break, that was always pretty brutal.

Do you remember a particular training session you were most nervous for?

Maybe the first time I hit with Lleyton, but I’ve always got on really well with him and he’s always made me feel pretty comfortable.

What advice would you share with an aspiring player wanting to get the most out of a training session?

Always have a goal or a focus for every practice. Have something that you want to try and achieve or get better at.

Who are your favourite players on tour to practice with?

Well, he’s just retired. I practised a lot over the last 10 years or so with Johnny Millman. I do always enjoy practising with Thommo (Jordan Thompson) as well.

Are there any players on tour you would love the chance to train with?

Maybe Carlos Alcaraz, I’ve never hit with him.

Is there any player from tennis history that you would love the opportunity to hit with?

I always liked watching Marat Safin play, so practising with him and seeing how hard he hit the ball would have been pretty cool.

Finally, if you had five minutes left in a training session and could do anything you wish, what would you choose?

Probably working on drop shots, they’re quite fun. I’d do this by having little targets set up and shortening the court.

> READ MORE: From our “Train with the pros” series

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