Australian world No. 105 James Duckworth is finally able to play pain-free and he is making a notable progress at the Murray River Open. On Wednesday, home favorite Duckworth continued his solid run in Melbourne as he surprised rising star Ugo Humbert 7-6 (6) 6-4.
"I knew it was going to be a tough match but I’ve been practising pretty well and was pretty confident in my game and obviously knew if I could continue to hold serve I could build pressure,” Duckworth said, per Tennis Australia.
Duckworth reached a career-high of No. 71 in the world last year but then health issues strucked him once again. "I was on anti-inflammatories for a bit, sort of when I came back at US Open and French Open, I wasn’t quite sort of where I wanted to be in terms of my pace on serve,” Duckworth related.
“It gradually just got better and stronger and I’ve been pain free for a few months now."
Duckworth awaits either Corentin Moutet or Albert Ramos-Vinolas
Duckworth will now have a solid chance to continue his progress in Melbourne and go even deeper into the event.
Meanwhile, Duckworth's fellow compatriot Jordan Thompson beat Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4 3-6 6-3 at the Great Ocean Road Open in Melbourne. "He’s a tough player. He’s a world-class doubles player, world-class singles player,” Thompson said.
“He plays on the edge, takes a lot of risks, and even in that last game, he pushed me. I had to serve it out pretty tough and save a break point. It felt like he was red lining, going after everything. I was just ready to move and just try to make as many balls as possible”.
Thompson plays next against Mario Vilella Martinez. "I haven’t played anything since October, November. It’s good to be playing matches,” Thompson acknowledged. “Already played three in two days, got more to come. So it’s great prep”.