Duckworth beats five match points in difficult first day for Aussies at US Open

Duckworth beats five match points in difficult first day for Aussies at US Open

The shattered James Duckworth was unable to contain his frustration after losing five match points in a crushing first-round five-set defeat at the US Open.

Duckworth followed compatriots John Millman and Astra Sharma out of the gates after succumbing to Spain’s Pedro Martinez 4-6 4-6 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 6-2.

Millman previously slumped to a 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-2) 6-1 loss to Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen on day one at Flushing Meadows, while Sharma bowed 6-0 6-3 to eighth-seeded French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova.

Millman’s early departure came three years after the Queenslander defeated five-time champion Roger Federer en route to the quarter-finals in New York. But the veteran’s defeat, after entering the final grand slam of the season under a fitness cloud, was nothing for Duckworth’s heartthrob.

After hitting a career-high No. 67 in the rankings last week, Duckworth was well on his way to continuing his turning point season before letting a huge opportunity slip away.

The Sydneysider missed his first match point with Martinez serving 5-6 in the third set, but couldn’t convert any of the four in the crucial tiebreak.

He gave up the fourth set quickly and found himself battling the momentum.

Duckworth composed himself to get an early break in fifth, only to concede six games in a row to bow after a tense and marathon affair that lasted four hours and twenty minutes.

“Last week I had four match points and lost. Today I had five match points and lost. Pretty pissed off actually,” said Duckworth, adding that towards the end of the match he could barely take off his exhausting legs to serve.

“I was physically quite ready. I couldn’t do much physically, which hurt me.”

Duckworth enjoyed a breakthrough to the third round of Wimbledon last month and also made round two at Roland Garros and Melbourne Park.

There was also disappointment for Sharma, who was unable to extend her winning run from qualifying despite coming back in the second set against Krejcikova.

After losing six of the first eight games, Sharma finally gave in in one hour and 14 minutes.

Nick Kyrgios, who faces 18th-seeded Roberto Bautista-Agut, and Alexei Popyrin, against Radu Albot, will play later on Tuesday.


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