London, Great Britain, 30 June 2024 | Leigh Rogers

Australian men meeting in the opening round at a Grand Slam tournament has become a common trend of late.

It looked like this would change at Wimbledon 2024, until James Duckworth was elevated into the main draw as a lucky loser. He replaced injured Frenchman Corentin Moutet, setting up an opening-round showdown with compatriot Alex de Minaur.

This makes Wimbledon 2024 the fourth consecutive major tournament to feature an all-Australian meeting in the first round of the men’s singles competition.

Such a draw anomaly last occurred between Wimbledon 1984 and Roland Garros 1985.

Highlighting the extraordinary depth in Australian men’s tennis right now, these all-Aussie battles at the past four Grand Slams have featured nine different players.

Grand Slam men’s singles
All-Australian first-round meetings
US Open 2023 Chris O’Connell d Max Purcell
Australian Open 2024 Alexei Popyrin d Marc Polmans
Jordan Thompson d Aleksandar Vukic
Roland Garros 2024 Thanasi Kokkinakis d Alexei Popyrin
Wimbledon 2024 Alex de Minaur v James Duckworth

“At least there will be another Aussie in the second round,” Duckworth shrugged when asked if there was a silver lining to his upcoming all-Aussie battle.

The 32-year-old Duckworth described the opportunity to face ninth-seeded De Minaur as “a great test”.

“I’m going to have to play well, that’s the reality,” Duckworth said. “If I don’t play well, I’ll be in a fair bit of trouble. He’s top 10 in the world and he’s there for a reason. It’s going to be tough, but I’ll go out there and give it a good crack.”

Duckworth’s earliest memory of De Minaur is training together at Sydney Olympic Park in February 2015.

“I was about 105, 110 in the world and I was in Sydney for 10 days,” he related. “I remember hitting with him for the first time there and he said ‘I’d love to practise with you as much as you want, as long as you’re here, let me know when you want to hit and I’ll hit with you’.

“I was like ‘wow, this guy really wants it’. He was like 15 years old and every session he turned up and tried his arse off. He was pretty skinny and light on at that stage, his ball wasn’t big, but he was very mature for his age. I was beating him in most points, but there was no carry on from him … I was super impressed with him.”

Duckworth has proudly watched on as De Minaur, who is seven years his junior, has charged up the rankings to peak at world No.7 earlier this month.

“I love Demon. I just love the way he goes about it,” world No.78 Duckworth said.

“He’s a super humble guy, works extremely hard and is just a very good tennis player. His game has evolved a lot I think over the last couple of years. He’s really worked hard and I’m super pumped for him that he’s ranked where he is.

“I’d say at lot, or all of us, Aussies look up to him and he’s a great role model for us for sure.”

Despite the strong respect, Duckworth believes he can challenge the Aussie No.1 when they face off in Wimbledon’s opening round on Tuesday. His confidence is high after tallying 10 wins on grass in recent weeks, including a victory against world No.14 Ben Shelton.

“I give myself a chance, for sure,” Duckworth said.

“I’ve been playing pretty well and grass is probably my best surface. I think I’m dangerous on this surface and if I play well, I’m a chance.”

> READ: Australian hopes handed brutal draws at Wimbledon 2024

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