World No. 65 James Duckworth underlined that playing against a close friend is never an easy thing as he was glad that he managed to make it past John Millman at the Astana Open in Nur-Sultan. In a battle between two Australians and two close friends, Duckworth ended on the winning side as he handed Millman a 6-4 6-4 loss to make the Nur-Sultan semifinal.
Duckworth broke Millman in the opening game of the match and then saved a total of six break points in the rest of je set to claim the opener. Duckworth blew one of his two second set breaks and also failed to convert a match point in the ninth game but served out for the match in the 10th game.
"It was really tricky,” Duckworth said, per the ATP website. “John is a good player and we are really good mates. We practise at the same site. It is always difficult playing someone so close to you, but you have to put that aside and focus pretty hard and I was able to play a pretty good match”.
Duckworth plays Ilya Ivashka next
Ivashka, who recently captured his maiden ATP crown at the Winston-Salem Open, beat rising Finnish star Emil Ruusuvuori 4-6 6-4 6-1 to set up a Duckworth clash. “The beginning of the third set was super long with many tough games,” Ivashka added.
“Until I got the double break at 3-1, I felt like it could go either way. The guys who came today were supporting hard. It is always nice when we have more people cheering for the players”. Ivashka admitted coming back from a set down was physicaly exhausting.
“It was a really really hard match,” Ivashka said. “It was brutal, almost three hours. The whole match was a mental fight and I am really happy I have come through it. In the third set, the score was 6-1, but it was really hard”.