London, Great Britain, 25 June 2024 | Leigh Rogers

James Duckworth had two of his Australian peers providing courtside support as he recorded a hard-fought opening-round win in the Wimbledon 2024 men’s qualifying singles competition.

Alex Bolt, who earlier had recorded an impressive victory of his own, and Andrew Harris were in Duckworth’s corner as he triumphed 6-7(8) 6-2 6-4 against German Benjamin Hassan.

“It was a super tough match,” Duckworth told “That first set was really difficult, I didn’t get many chances on his serve throughout the set and then the tiebreak I obviously had a couple of chances. I was disappointed with a couple of unforced errors on my set points, but I was really happy with the way I bounced back in the second and third. I really turned up my aggression and I thought that was the difference in the end.”

Harris, a 30-year-old from Melbourne, peaked at world No.84 in doubles last year and was an Australian Open mixed doubles semifinalist in January. He is currently travelling with Duckworth as his coach.

“He’s had some back issues, so he’s taking some time off (from competing) and just assessing where he wants to go with his tennis,” Duckworth explained. “For the moment, he’s helping me.”

After spending a trial week working together at the ATP tournament in Houston in April, they formalised their new coaching partnership just before Roland Garros.

“He’s been really pushing me to play the right style and get me to be more aggressive,” Duckworth said.

“We went back and watched a lot of footage from when I was playing my best tennis in 2021 and increased aggression, we thought, was the biggest difference from now and then. So that’s something we’ve really been working hard on over the past four-to-five weeks.”

It is an approach that is clearly paying off, with Duckworth winning nine of his 12 grass-court matches in the past month. This included a stunning victory against world No.14 Ben Shelton at an ATP tournament in Stuttgart.

These results have helped Duckworth’s ranking climb to world No.78, up almost 30 places in the past four weeks.

> RANKING MOVERS: Duckworth rises to highest position since September 2022

This rapid rise, however, came too late to avoid playing qualifying at Wimbledon this week.

“Obviously you don’t want to be playing qualifying, you’d rather be in the main draw,” the former world No.46 acknowledged. “But I accepted it six weeks ago when the cut was done. I knew I probably was going to be playing qualies, and that’s just the way it was.

“At that time I wasn’t playing well enough. I didn’t deserve to be in the main draw on my form and the amount of points I had accumulated wasn’t up to scratch. I think I’ve improved a lot since then and now my ranking reflects that.”

As he looks to continue his resurgence, Duckworth is preparing to face world No.148 Nicolas Moreno De Alboran in the second round.

“I’m really happy with how I’ve been playing and I’m looking to build on that this week,” said Duckworth, who has previously completed successful qualifying campaigns at Wimbledon in 2013 and 2014.

South Australians Li Tu and Alex Bolt are also through to the second round. Tu enjoyed dream debut at the tournament by winning his first-round match, while Bolt made the most of a late call-up into the draw.

Aussies in action – Wimbledon

Men’s qualifying singles, first round
[4] James Duckworth (AUS) d Benjamin Hassan (GER) 6-7(8) 6-2 6-4
Li Tu (AUS) d Valentin Royer (FRA) 6-3 7-6(5)
[Alt] Alex Bolt (AUS)
 d Nicolas Kicker (ARG) 6-1 6-4
[3] Zizou Bergs (BEL) d Omar Jasika (AUS) 6-2 7-5
[9] David Goffin (BEL) d Marc Polmans (AUS) 6-3 6-1
[10] Damir Dzumhur (BIH) d Tristan Schoolkate (AUS) 6-4 7-6(3)
Hugo Dellien (BOL) d Philip Sekulic (AUS) 6-3 6-7(5) 6-3
Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) d Dane Sweeny (AUS) 7-5 6-1

Women’s qualifying singles, first round
[7] Arina Rodionova (AUS) v [WC] Amelia Rajecki (GBR)
[27] Astra Sharma (AUS) v Varvara Lepchenko (USA)
[32] Kimberly Birrell (AUS) v Arianne Hartono (NED)
Olivia Gadecki (AUS) v [6] Maria Timofeeva
Talia Gibson (AUS) v [19] Jana Fett (CRO)
Priscilla Hon (AUS) v [28] Linda Fruhvirtova (CZE)
Taylah Preston (AUS) v Natalija Stevanovic (SRB)
Maya Joint (AUS) v Andreea Mitu (ROU)
Destanee Aiava (AUS) v Anastasiya Soboleva (UKR)
[Alt] Maddison Inglis (AUS) v [22] Sara Bejlek (CZE)

> VIEW: Wimbledon 2024 women’s qualifying singles draw

Men’s qualifying singles, second round
[4] James Duckworth (AUS) Nicolas Moreno De Alboran (USA)
Li Tu (AUS) v [6] Luca Van Assche (FRA)

[Alt] Alex Bolt (AUS) Rudolf Molleker (GER)

> VIEW: Wimbledon 2024 men’s qualifying singles draw

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